When the Artist Emerges

An NUS graduate bridges dissimilar domains with style

Knowledge Enterprise, National University of Singapore, July 2002 issue.


Whoever says that art and medicine do not mix should take a look at NUS medical graduate (1999) Chng Nai Wee's latest works in his fourth solo exhibition Moleculux -- Luminescent Bodies in Hyperspace.

Modelled after human molecules, his acrylic sculptures of dazzling red and green look like trains of giant balloons from afar. Nearer, it becomes clear they are molecular blocks of light installations. When lit up at night, his art pieces bestow a mood of mystery on Sculpture Square -- a non-profit, independent arts organisation and Singapore's only art space dedicated to sculpture and other 3-dimensional arts.  

At 33, Nai Wee boasts an enviable portfolio. In 1991, he was the youngest artist to stage a solo show at Singapore's National Museum. Since then, his art works have been exhibited beyond Singapore's shores in countries such as China, Japan, England, France and Ireland.

He has bagged numerous awards, including the National Arts Council's Young Artist Award (1999), Dr Tan Tze Chor Art Award (1995) and the Philip Morris ASEAN Art Awards (1994). Often provocative yet engaging, his masterpieces are sought after by private collectors across the globe as well as organisations such as the National Arts Council.

The practising eye surgeon and self-taught artist's accomplishments are no mean feat, considering that he had submerged his artistic inclinations to study medicine in line with his parents' wishes. But the true artist in him could not be denied.

His fervour for art unabated through the years, he has turned the unique experiences and perspectives on life gained as a doctor into his main source of creative inspiration.

Nai Wee readily credits his medical training and information technology experiences for having sharpened and enriched his scientific perspective and imagination. He explains, "My works introduce biomedical science and technology to the arts-learning crowd in a way that is artistically accessible, and in the same vein, through the veil of familiarity entice scientists to embrace the visual arts."