VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Snake Charmer
2004-00563
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This painting is based on an Indian street performer sitting outside Shaw Centre. Apart from documenting a disappearing trade, Chua also captures a sense of displacement, where the traditional snake charmer seems out of place against a modern backdrop. Chua’s paintings are often basked in light, but the monochromatic background in this painting heightens the sense of melancholy in this picture. While the light cast on the snake charmer’s eyes seem to highlight their emptiness, as he tries to interest an indifferent audience with his performance.

History of the Object
As a student at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Chua made observations of the common man in the street, and from there developed a sensitivity to his surroundings: “In producing the image of people, the artist should convey the living situation, appearance and mentality of the human subject.” The eyes are crucial in establishing character, because people “can pick such features out like individual trees in a forest. It is in the small details that often have the most influence”.

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Oil on canvas 
Measurements
H: 78.5 x W: 79.4 cm 
Creator name
Chua Mia Tee 
Creator date
1931 -  
Where it was made
Singapore 
Geography
Singapore 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; 1977 
Function
Art Work 
Acquisition
The painting was donated by Times Publishers Limited to the museum. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Singapore Art Museum 
Museum
Singapore Art Museum 
Credit line
Donation from Times Publishers Limited 

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