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Born in China, Georgette Chen Li Ying (1906-1993) received her art education in Paris, New York and Shanghai. Chen's artistic oeuvre can be divided into three phases: French Period from 1927-1933; China-Hong Kong Period from 1934-1948 and Penang-Singapore Period from 1949-1980. Immensely inspired by her surroundings, she produced still-lifes, portraits and landscapes from each phase. Settling in Singapore in 1954, she taught at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts until her retirement in 1980. Regarded as a Pioneer Artist of Singapore who developed the Nanyang Style, she was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 1982. Although Chen started using pastel only in the early 1960s, her mastery of the medium is already evident in this 1964 self-portrait. This portrait is markedly different from her other earlier self-portraits in the SAM collection; here her expression is much softer, with even a hint of a smile.

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