Art Detail | Ilham Gallery

This painting was painted in 1959, during Chia Yu Chian’s student days at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts in Paris. The artist was living in a studio in Paris’  Latin Quarter and the scene depicted in this painting - the Paris cityscape dominated by the spires of the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral -  would have likely  been the view from his studio. The hues of blue with tinges of orange evoke a chilly, wintry day in Paris. Influenced by Fauvism during his time in Paris, Chia uses strong, non-naturalistic colours, applied in small separate brushstrokes, to convey the sensations of light and shade. In this painting, Chia captures the beauty of a city which has influenced many artists, from Gauguin to Degas.

Oil on canvas
50 x 63.5cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Chia Yu Chian
About Chia Yu Chian

Chia Yu Chian (1936 - 1990) was born in Kota Tinggi Johor, Malaysia. As a child, Chia was educated in both Malaysia and Singapore. During his years in Singapore, he was taking private art lessons with painter Chen Wen Hsi, who was then teaching at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). Although not a full-time student at NAFA, Chia was exposed to the teaching influences of the Academy as well as other Nanyang artists such as Cheong Soo Pieng. Chia was the first Malayan artist to be awarded a French Government scholarship to study painting at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1959. During his time in Paris, he established a studio and also participated in various exhibitions.  Upon his return to Malaya in 1962, he participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions both in Malaysia and abroad.

Further Readings

  • Chia Yu Chian: Private Lives catalogue, ILHAM Gallery

  • Martin A Bradley, Intimations of Chia Yu Chian (article) from catalogue of Chia Yu Chian Enlivened exhibition. Published by Chia Yu Chian Art Gallery, 2017.

Learning Section

  • The title tells us that this painting is of Paris. Coming from Malaysia, what has the artist noticed about the European city? What details of the city does the painting show? What details does the artist not include?

  • What is the dominant colour in this painting? Why has the artist chosen this colour? How does it affect the mood of the painting?

  • Can you describe how the artist has used paint in this artwork? What kind of marks has he made? How does he show tone? (light and dark)? How does he use the line?