Born in 1942 in Singapore, New York/Singapore-based artist Wong Keen’s art training began under Liu Kang and advanced under Chen Wen Hsi’s mentoring. In 1961 Wong left to study at The Art Students League, New York, and in 1963 received the League’s prestigious Edward G. McDowell Travelling Scholarship to travel and study in Europe. During the 1960s in New York, Wong was drawn to Abstract Expressionism for its energetic and spontaneous use of paint to express emotion. His early works of this period heavily feature a chromatic range of blacks and blues as part of his attempt to transfer the visual quality of Chinese ink into the Western oil medium. The figure against the dark background, an autobiographical reference, and the moody black tones of ’Empty’ are representative of his state of dejection during this time when he stayed indoors and worked round the clock to support himself.

Artist Name
Wong Keen
Image size: 152.9 x 122.4 cm, Frame size: H155.1 x W124.6 x D4.1 cm
Accession No.
Oil on canvas
Collection of
National Gallery Singapore
Credit Line
Donation from Mr and Mrs Koh Seow Chuan