About the project

I started this project with one simple goal in mind – to protect and enhance the legacy of one of Singapore’s most famous and gifted artists Chen Wen Hsi.

Sadly, I have to say this was partially motivated by the rise of non-authentic works which have started to permeate the market, both in private sales and via auction houses. In the connected world we now live in, many of us will also turn to Google for information and pictures for a specific artist.

Here I also came across articles promoting the subject of ‘how to spot a fake Chen Wen Hsi’ or images that are now tied to the artist, which are also not authentic. Left unchecked, this creates a risk to the reputation of an artist who devoted his life to his passion.

As a lifelong collector and friend of Chen Wen Hsi, this situation deeply saddened me and simply put, I wanted to do something about it.

I started this project by running a series of exhibitions, showcasing my own personal collection of Chen Wen Hsi and inviting other private owners to bring forward their works for verification and photographing.

It is my desire to bring together the largest collection of personally authenticated works under this website and offer a certification process to private buyers and owners looking to authenticate their works.

As a result of this ongoing work I hope this website will become two things:

  • The single biggest source of genuine Chen Wen Hsi images you will find anywhere on the web.
  • The best source of information on Chen Wen Hsi.

Mr Johnny Quek

The verification process

Often a piece of art is accompanied by documentation, commonly known as provenance, that acts to confirm its authenticity. This documentation can take the form of signatures on works or certificates, catalog/book inclusion, and photographs of the artist holding the work. When we consider older generation artists such as Chen Wen Hsi, there is two important considerations:

Chen Wen Hsi never painted to be a famous artist. He painted because that is what he loved to do. At no point did he ever consider the need to certify his own work and protect his legacy for future generations. The only form of certification Chen Wen Hsi embedded into his work is an undated signature.

The technology that we take for granted now was not so readily available in the past. Digital cameras didn’t become mainstream until the mid-late 1990’s. Chen Wen Hsi passed away in 1991. There is very limited imagery of Chen Wen Hsi or his work during his lifetime.

When an artist is no longer alive to verify his own work, and limited provenance exists – authentication becomes a matter of personal opinion, which creates the opportunity for non-authentic works to enter the market. This is not a challenge specific to Chen Wen Hsi – it is a challenge for any artist of notoriety where financial incentive exists for people to actively pursue forgery.

In order to protect and build the reputation of Chen Wen Hsi I am offering a non-official certification process for free. This is how it works:

  • Submission

    You can submit a work to me for review. This can be done via our submission / contact page and is entirely free.

  • Review

    I will personally review the submission and determine if it is authentic. I will inform you either way.

  • Inclusion on website

    With your permission I will include any authenticated works into this website for public consumption.

  • Certification

    I will send you a signed certificate, including the picture of your work. Again, this is offered for free.

Frequently asked questions

Why should we trust your view?

Ultimately many people will advertise their ability to verify Chen Wen Hsi works and I don’t wish to pass any judgement on their skills one way or the other.

All I will say is this – I am one of the few people left in this world who knew Chen Wen Hsi personally for many years and supported his passion before he ever became famous. I spent time with him at his gallery and I observed him painting many many times.

Over the years I purchased works directly from Chen Wen Hsi, and after his passing I continued to purchase select works from other collectors or via auction.

Its a combination of these elements that makes me confident in my ability to spot a real Chen Wen Hsi work.

Will you keep my personal details private?

Yes.

Frankly it doesn’t matter to me if your submission uses a fake name and contact details. I am interested primarily in the images of the work and growing the database of authentic works available to the public on this website.

If you do provide me with genuine personal details and we have a dialogue on email or via the phone I can assure you that none of these details will make it into the public domain, whether I authenticate your work or not.

Don't you have a vested financial interest?

Yes.

I have a private collection of works by Chen Wen Hsi, so it is fair to conclude that protecting and enhancing the reputation of the artist could be financially beneficial to me. That said, this is not on my mind.

Much of my collection was bought many years in the past, I could have sold parts or all of my collection for significant profit many times over. I have never done so.

I am an old man now, I don’t need the money and I don’t intend to sell my collection. I store my collection in conditions that will maximise their life, so that people can see Chen Wen Hsi well after I am gone.

How do I ask you to authenticate my Chen Wen Hsi?

Please take a number of photographs of the work and submit these via the contact us page.

If I require more information I will get in touch with you directly. I am located in Singapore and can also verify works in person if this would be preferred – again, you may use the contact us form to connect with me for this purpose.

What happens if you authenticate the work?

Ultimately thats up to you, but ideally I would like your permission to include a photo of your art work on the website alongside all the other works I personally feel are authentic.

I will also sign a certificate that verifies that I have viewed the work and believe it to be authentic.

Is your certificate official?

The certificate is my way of formally saying ‘in my humble opinion, this work is authentic’ and I offer this service and certificate completely free of charge.

My opinion is formed by many years of experience, but it remains my opinion. In time people will either decide the certificate holds some water, which in turn will be beneficial to you or future generations OR they will decide it doesn’t – in which case you’ll have lost nothing.

What happens if you think my work is not authentic?

Its not my intent to cause anybody pain. If you bring or send a work to me for review I will simply review it and let you know my thoughts. What you choose to do with that information is totally up to you.

The intent of this website is to only show authentic works. There is no section and nor will there ever be one to highlight non-authentic works.

I will therefore never publicise any information or images of works that were shown to me that I felt were not authentic.

Is it possible you could be wrong?

Yes.

Whilst I am very confident in my ability to determine the authenticity of Chen Wen Hsi I would never try to claim that I can get it right 100% of the time.

I am sure over the years I have seen authentic works, but I have not felt comfortable enough to authenticate for one reason or another.

Exhibition Opening - 14th December from 7pm

Remembering
Dr. Chen Wen Hsi

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