Nearly a hundred photographic works by Chua Soo Bin will go on display at the National Gallery Singapore as part of an exhibition on his life and art.

The six-month show, which opens on Dec 6, shines a spotlight on the Singapore lensman’s Legends series: 14 portraits of Chinese ink masters such as China’s Ye Qianyu and Singapore’s Chen Wen Hsi. These will be accompanied by the artists’ paintings.

Also on display are Chua’s portraits of the late Chinese ink artist Wu Guanzhong. Spanning two decades, these range from a candid shot of him and a parrot to one of him sketching on a boat during a study trip to Thailand.

The 87-year-old, who worked in advertising for several decades before setting up his own photo studio, is also famous for his photos of the Singapore Girl. These can be seen in the show’s final section alongside other commercial photos, a documentary from 1989 and archival materials.

(Related: [PHOTOS] The Great Room Co-Founder Yian Huang’s Secret Life of Photography)

He received the Cultural Medallion for photography in 1988. In 1990, he founded Soo Bin Art Gallery (now SooBin Art International), one of the first platforms in Singapore showing works by emerging avant-garde Chinese artists.

The Chua Soo Bin retrospective is the National Gallery Singapore’s first photography-centric show.

“While photography has traditionally been under-researched in Singapore, it has played a significant role in our art history,” says the gallery’s director Eugene Tan.

“We hope that this retrospective will raise awareness of Chua’s significant contributions to Singapore’s art scene as a photographer, a gallerist, art dealer and art patron. At the same time, visitors will be inspired to learn more about Singapore’s very own photographers and reflect on the changing role of photography.”

Chua Soo Bin: Truths & Legends runs from Dec 6 to June 28. For more information on the exhibition and related events, visit

(Related: Local artist and Cultural Medallion recipient Goh Beng Kwan documents his career in new book)

This article was originally published in The Straits Times.