Ten Men Art Group & Field Trips in Southeast Asia

While the watercolourists who painted the Singapore River were in search of a national emblem, the search for a Southeast Asian regionalism as an aesthetic agenda of the Nanyang School continued. Following the Bali Field Trip of 1952, other artists made regular excursions to Southeast Asian countries to seek visual sources and inspiration.

The Ten Men Art Group, the brainchild of Yen Chi Wei, was an informal grouping of artists whose common interest was to participate in such field trips to the region, The group, which membership increased to sixteen in its fifth outing, organised a total of six trips to the Malayan peninsula, Java, Bali, Thailand, Cambodia, Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei and Sumatra between 1961 and 1970. Of its members, only Yeh Chi Wei and Choo Keng Kwang went on all six trips followed by Lim Tze Peng and Seah Kim Joo who participated in most of them.

Liu Kang wrote of Yeh Chi Wei in 1969:

The Ten Men Art Group was originally a group activity. However, since Chi Wei is the chief planner of the activity as well as the essence of its aesthetic direction, it would therefore be appropriate to regard the Ten Men Art Group's evolution as representative of Chi Wei's personal artistic development.

Source: Kwok Kian Chow, Channels and Confluences