Ng Eng Teng

Singapore Infopedia

by Ker, Yin


Ng Eng Teng (b. 12 July 1934, Singapore–d. 4 November 2001, Singapore)1 was a sculptor and winner of the Cultural Medallion in visual arts in 1981.2 He learned painting under first-generation masters such as Georgette Chen and Liu Kang, and furthered his studies in ceramics in England.3 Having returned to Singapore in 1966, Ng maintained a prolific production throughout his career until his death in November 2001.4 One of the most renowned artists in Singapore,he is remembered for his large-scale sculptures gracing many public spaces as well as his introspective and whimsical interpretations of humanist themes in three-dimension.


Ng began his artistic journey as a painter, studying fine art at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). His interest in sculpture began at an early age, and even when the subject was not taught at NAFA during his studies, he worked on terracotta figurines using kilns in the now defunct Jurong Brickworks and Alexandra Brickworks. With the advice of his teacher, Georgette Chen, he pursued sculptural arts abroad in the 1960s.7

Distinct aspects of Ng’s oeuvre are: rounded biomorphic forms based on the human form; angular or geometric forms that may be “abstractions of the human form”; as well as works that portray human conditions such as motherhood and fear.8 Throughout his career, Ng has worked with different materials in pottery and sculpture, these being clay, terra cotta, stoneware, metal and ciment fondu.9

Some of Ng’s well-known public sculpture works in Singapore include: “Mother and Child” (1996), which temporarily stood at Tampines Central Park and has since been accessioned into Singapore’s National Collection of visual art; “Mother and Child” (1980), which stands at Orchard Road;10 “Spirit of Man” (1984), which is displayed at Changi International Airport;11 as well as two large, monumental female forms, titled “Wealth” (1974) and “Contentment” (1974), which once stood in the courtyard at the old Plaza Singapura in the 1970s, were subsequently donated to the NUS Museum in 1997, and displayed at the University Cultural Centre at the National University of Singapore (NUS).12

Ng was concerned with the welfare of society. Thus, he participated in charity exhibitions and programmes for inmates.13 His belief in education and free creation led him to donate the bulk of his works – such as sketches, paintings and maquettes – to the NUS Museum.14 His donations to the NUS Museum, which number over 1,000 works, provide a comprehensive account of his artistic career.15 Ng was instrumental in the development of the fine arts in Singapore through his art, his person and his participation at various levels of the artistic arena as advisor, judge and observer.16

1955: Painting and sculpture, British Council, Singapore.

1956: Fine arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), Singapore (discontinued after a few months due to illness).
1958: Private study under Liu Kang.
1959–61: Painting, NAFA, Singapore; Private study under Chen Chong Swee, Georgette Chen, Chen Wen Hsi and Cheong Soo Pieng.
1962–63: Ceramics, North Staffordshire College of Technology, Stoke-on-Trent School of Art, England.
1963–64: Studio pottery, Farnham School of Art, England.

Trainee-artist, Shaw Brothers, Fortune Advertising.

1964–66: Resident designer, Carrigaline Pottery, Ireland.

Solo exhibitions
1970: Sculpture, Ceramic, PaintingNational Library, Singapore.19
1972: Painting, Drawing, Sculpture and Pottery, National Library, Singapore.
1976: Sculpture and Pottery, East and West Art Gallery, Victoria, Australia.
1985: Sculpture and Pottery, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.
1988: Sculpture, Gomboc Gallery, Western Australia.
1989: Sculpture, East and West Art Gallery, Victoria, Australia.20
1991: Sculpture in SingaporeNational Museum Art Gallery, Singapore / Sculpture, The National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.21
2010: Fantastic Universe: The Imagination of Ng Eng Teng, Lim Hak Tai Gallery, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore.22
2016: Ng Eng Teng: 1+1=1, Ng Eng Teng Gallery, National University of Singapore Museum.23

Selected group exhibitions
1962: Joint sculpture and painting exhibition with Katherine Schmidt, National Library, Singapore.24
1967: First sculpture exhibition, National Library, Singapore.
1969: ASTA Convention Exhibition, Contemporary Sculpture Centre, Tokyo, Japan; Sculpture ’69 (Second Sculpture Exhibition in Singapore).25
1972: Adelaide Art Festival, Lidums Art Gallery, Adelaide, Australia.
1976: Inaugural Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1985: International Ceramics Exhibition, Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan/ Second Contemporary Asian Art Show, Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan.26
1986: Contemporary Asian Art Show, Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, Korea.
1988: World Invitation Open Air Sculpture Exhibition, Seoul, Korea.27
1993: Art in Asia, World Trade Centre, Singapore.28
1994: Singapore Showcase, World Trade Centre, Singapore.29
1996: Inaugural exhibition, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore.30

Selected commissions31
1971: “Asian Symphony”, Garden Hotel, Singapore.
1971: “Pipes and Petals” (Industrial Growth and Economic Prosperity), Esso Asia Services Inc, Singapore.
1974: “Miss Wealth and Miss Contentment”, Development Bank of Singapore, Singapore.
1980: “Mother and Child III”, Orchard Centre Holdings Pte Ltd, Singapore.
1982: “Balance”, Ministry of Culture for First ASEAN Sculpture Symposium, Singapore.
1984: “Spirit of Man I and II”, Changi International Airport, Terminal 1, Singapore.
1988: “Portrait”, Seoul Olympics Organising Committee, Republic of Korea.
1999: “The Explorer”, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore.

Selected awards and achievements
Gold Medal, Tagore Centenary Open Painting Competition.32

1974: Pingat Apad Award, Singapore.33
1981: Cultural Medallion (Visual Arts), Singapore; Medal for Sculpture, Tan Tsze Chor Art Award, Singapore Art Society.34
1990: ASEAN Cultural Award for Visual Arts (Sculpture).35
1998: Honorary Doctor of Letters, National University of Singapore, Singapore.36
1999: Public Service Star, National Day Awards, Singapore.37
2001: Montblanc Patron of the Arts Award, Singapore.38

Other art-related activities
 Meets Jean Bullock who was instrumental in shaping his interest in sculpture; begins to use ciment fondu, a material employed throughout his practice.39

1972: Participates as a member of the ASEAN Art Exhibition organising committee.40
1997: Donates 760 artworks to NUS Museum.41
1998: Donates 173 artworks to NUS Museum. The Ng Eng Teng Gallery, NUS Museum, opens.42
2001: Donates 162 artworks to NUS Museum.43

Yin Ker

1. T. K. Sabapathy, Ng Eng Teng: Art and Thoughts (Singapore: NUS Museums, National University of Singapore, 1998), 290 (Call no. RSING 730.95957 NGE); “Local Sculptor Ng Eng Teng Dies Aged 67,” Business Times, 6 November 2001, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Tommy Koh, et al. eds., Singapore: The Encyclopedia (Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with National Heritage Board, 2006), 382 (Call no. RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); “Six Artistes to Get Cultural Awards at Istana,” Straits Times, 6 September 1981, 11 (From NewspaperSG); T. K. Sabapathy, ed., Change: 20 Singapore Artists: A Decade of Their Work (Singapore: P. Mowe, 1991), 27. (Call no. RSING 709.5957 CHA)
3. Sabapathy, 20 Singapore Artists, 26; Chia Wai Hon, Singapore Artists (Singapore: Singapore Cultural Foundation & Federal Publications, 1982), 30 (Call no. RSING 759.95957 SIN); Ng Eng Teng Gallery, Ng Eng Teng Gallery, National University of Singapore: Collection of Sculptures, Ceramics, Paintings, and Drawings (Singapore: Ng Eng Teng Gallery, 1998) (Call no. RSING 730.95957 NG); Sabapathy, Art and Thoughts, 24, 290.
4. Sabapathy, 20 Singapore Artists, 26–28, 37.
5. Ng Eng Teng Gallery, Ng Eng Teng Gallery.
6. T. K. Sabapathy, Sculpture in Singapore (Singapore: National Museum, 1991), 12, 43–46 (Call no. RSING 730.95957 SAB); Constance Sheares, Bodies Transformed, Ng Eng Teng in the Nineties (Singapore: NUS Museums, National University of Singapore, 1999), 11, 15 (Call no. RSING 730.95957 SHE); Koh, et al., Singapore: The Encyclopedia, 382; Chia, Singapore Artists, 30; Richard Lim, ed., Singapore Artists Speak (Singapore: C. H. Yeo, 1990), 248. (Call no. RSING 709.5957 SIN)
7. Foo Su Ling, “Sculpting Life: The Ng Eng Teng Collection,” in Sculpting Life: The Ng Eng Teng Collection (Singapore: NUS Museum, 2012), 10–12 (Call no. RSING 730.95957 SCU); B. T. Tan, “Ng Eng Teng,” in Ng Eng Teng: Entities and Enigma in Public Sculpture (Singapore: Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, 2013), 10. (Call no. RSING 730.95957 NG)
8. Constance Sheares, “Poetic Metaphors: Sculptures By Ng Eng Teng” in Ng Eng Teng, Poetic Metaphors: Sculptures (Singapore: Ng Eng Teng, 1991), 1–3 (Call no. RSING 730.95957 NG); Ng Eng Teng and T. K. Sabapathy, Vital Images of Life (Singapore: Ng Eng Teng, 1988), 6. (Call no. RSING 730.95957 NG)
9. G. Chen, “Ng Eng Teng” in Sculpture, Ceramic, Painting: Ng Eng Teng One Man Art Exhibition (Singapore: Ng Eng Teng, 1970) (Call no. RCLOS 730.95957 NG); Bridget Tracy Tan, Fantastic Universe: The Imagination of Ng Eng Teng (Singapore: Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, 2010), 3–4, 10. (Call no. RCLOS 738.3095957 TAN)
10. Toh Wen Li, “Ng Eng Teng’s Iconic Mother and Child Bronze Sculpture Now Part of National Collection,” Straits Times, 10 May 2018. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
11. Bruce Quek, “Art Review: Surprises in Store at NUS Museum’s Ng Eng Teng Show,” Today, 26 April 2016, 42. (From NewspaperSG)
12. National Heritage Board, “Museum Roundtable Marks Its 20th Anniversary with an Exhibition of Key Artefacts from Museums Islandwide,” media release, 2 November 2016.
13. Leong Weng Kam, “Sculptor Who Shaped Lives,” Straits Times, 11 November 2001, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
14. T. K. Sabapathy, Configuring the Body: Form and Tenor in Ng Eng Teng’s Art (Singapore: NUS Museums, National University of Singapore, 2003), 1. (Call no. RSING 730.95957 SAB)
15. Ahmad Mashadi, “Foreword,” in Sculpting Life: The Ng Eng Teng Collection (Singapore: NUS Museum, 2012), 4 (Call no. RSING 730.95957 SCU); Huang Lijie, “New Show of Ng Eng Teng’s Work at NUS Museum,” Straits Times, 26 April 2016. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
16. Chia, Singapore Artists, 30; Violet Oon, “Region’s Best in Art Display,” New Nation, 4 April 1972, 2 (From NewspaperSG); Susie Koay, Urban Artists: 25 Years of Singapore Art (Singapore: National Museum, 1990), 10–11. (Call no. RSING 708.95957 URB)
17. Sabapathy, Art and Thoughts, 290.
18. Sabapathy, Art and Thoughts, 290.
19. Ng Eng Teng, Sculpture, Ceramic, Painting: Ng Eng Teng One Man Art Exhibition (Singapore: Ng Eng Teng, 1970) (Call no. RCLOS 730.95957 NG); Sabapathy, Art and Thoughts, 290; Sabapathy, 20 Singapore Artists, 26; Singapore Artist Directory (Singapore: Empress Place Museum, 1993), 184. (Call no. RSING 709.59570922 SAD-[DIR])
20. Sabapathy, 20 Singapore Artists, 26; Singapore Artist Directory, 184.
21. Singapore Artist Directory, 184; Entities and Enigma, 211.
22. Tan, Fantastic Universe.
23. Huang Lijie, “New Show of Ng Eng Teng’s Work at NUS Museum,” Straits Times, 26 April 2016. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
24. Singapore Artist Directory, 184.
25. Ng, Sculpture, Ceramic, Painting.
26. Sabapathy, 20 Singapore Artists, 26; Singapore Artist Directory, 184.
27. Singapore Artist Directory, 184.
28. Entities and Enigma, 211.
29. Sabapathy, Art and Thoughts, 291.
30. Entities and Enigma, 211.
31. Sabapathy, Art and Thoughts, 247–49, 255, 259; Entities and Enigma, 211–12; Singapore Art Society, Contemporary Singapore Artists (Singapore: Singapore Art Society, 1989), 89. (Call no. RSING 709.5957 CON)
32. Sabapathy, Art and Thoughts, 290; Singapore Artist Directory, 81; Sabapathy, 20 Singapore Artists, 26.
33. Singapore Artist Directory, 184; Singapore Artist Directory, 81.
34. Sabapathy, 20 Singapore Artists, 26; “Six Artistes to Get Cultural Awards at Istana”; Singapore Artist Directory, 184.
35. Sabapathy, Art and Thoughts, 290; Sabapathy, 20 Singapore Artists, 26; Singapore Artist Directory, 184.
36. Entities and Enigma, 211.
37. Singapore Art Society, (1999). Singapore Art Society Artists’ Directory: 50th Anniversary 1949–1999 (Singapore: Singapore Art Society, 1999), 144. (Call no. RSING 709.595704 SIN)
38. Entities and Enigma, 211; Joyce Fan, ed., Ng Eng Teng: An Annotated Bibliography (Singapore: NUS Museums, National University of Singapore, 2001), iv. (Call no. RSING q016.73095957 NG-[LIB])
39. Sabapathy, Art and Thoughts, 290; Fan, ed., Annotated Bibliography, iv.
40. Violet Oon, “Region’s Best in Art Display,” New Nation, 4 April 1972, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
41. Fan, ed., Annotated Bibliography, iv.
42. Sheares, Bodies Transformed, 9; Sabapathy, Configuring the Body, 1; Kristin Kelly, The Extraordinary Museums of Southeast Asia (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001), 75. (Call no. RSING 069.20959 KEL)
43. Sabapathy, Configuring the Body, 1.

Further resources
Anthony Lawrence, A Salute to Singapore (Singapore: Times of Singapore, 1984), 172. (Call no. RSING 779.995957 SAL)

Venka Purushothaman, ed., Narratives: Notes on a Cultural Journey: Cultural Medallion Recipients 1979–2001 (Singapore: National Arts Council, 2002). (Call no. RSING 700.95957 NAR)

The information in this article is valid as at August 2019 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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The information on this page and any images that appear here may be used for private research and study purposes only. They may not be copied, altered or amended in any way without first gaining the permission of the copyright holder.

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