Born in China, Chua Mia Tee (1931) migrated to Singapore in 1937. A graduate from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1957, Chua is a highly regarded master of portrait painting. Chua has painted portraitures of prominent public figures, including presidents and prime ministers of Singapore. Besides portraitures, Chua also paints nationalistic and local scenes of Singapore, which serve as historical documentations of the nation's changing landscape. 'Workers in a Canteen' is based on a lunchtime scene at Jurong Shipyard, intending to highlight and salute the contribution of the working class to the nation's programme of rapid industrial and economic development. In terms of composition, the layering and details reveal a greater complexity and maturity in Chua's execution since 'National Language Class'. Following the lines of perspective, our attention is directed from the workers eating in the foreground to the animated conversation in the centre to beyond the entrance of the canteen, where the bright noonday sun is reflected on the machinery in the background. The interplay between foreground and background accentuates the subject matter in a dynamic manner.


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