mccy-lion-headA Singapore Government Agency Website
  • whatsapp

Honouring the pioneers of Singapore’s arts scene

Speech by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community And Youth & Second Minister for Law, at the launch of Lim Leong Seng’s ninth solo exhibition “Journey from the Wilderness” on 12 March 2024

  1. Good evening. It is my pleasure to join you this evening at Mr Lim Leong Seng’s 9th solo exhibition. My heartfelt congratulations to Mr Lim on this achievement.  

    Mr Lim Leong Seng’s contributions to the arts in Singapore 

  2. Mr Lim is one of our most prolific artists and has been a pillar of the artist community for many years. As a self-taught artist who came of age in the late 1960s, he has been very much a part of our country’s arts scene since our  independence.
  3. When Singapore gained independence, we did not have a model to follow. We had to come up with our own ideas and forge our own path through untested and uncharted waters. 
  4. In a similar way, Mr Lim’s journey is one of grit, resilience, and also innovation. Over the past decades, he has accumulated a wide portfolio of many works spanning a diverse array of different media, including painting, silkscreen, conceptual art, and sculpture. 
  5. Mr Lim’s works are widely admired not just for the technical prowess which he shows, but also for the way in which his work speaks to all of us in our way, telling our stories, manifesting our dreams, and also reflecting on our fears. 
  6. He has created works related to a wide variety of themes, such as environmental issues through installations like New Era. He has also taken on broader perspectives with works like Reflections on a Changing World, the highlight of this exhibition, which prompts us to think about and deeply re-examine our place on the planet in the context of today’s global conflict. 
  7. The Singapore of today is of course very different from the Singapore of Mr Lim’s youth. Today, you look around, we are a global metropolis, with a growing vibrant art scene. Our artists and creatives are represented and celebrated at the highest levels internationally.
  8. But we must also not forget where we came from and how we started. Our Merdeka-generation artists like Mr Lim help us remember the long roads previously taken, by other generations, earlier generations, our forefathers, and how challenging it was to get to where we are. 
  9. These artists grew up alongside our nation, in parallel with the progress of our nation, through good times and bad, and from uncertainty to confidence. 
  10. They grew into themselves and found their place and voice just as Singapore did. Their story very much reflects the story of Singapore’s progress over the decades. 
  11. And having lived through it, they are some of the best tellers of our Singapore story. Many of Mr Lim’s works, such as the iconic statue Heading Home, which depicts a rickshaw puller at work, reminds us very much of our history and our heritage. Works like Rebirth urge us to reflect on our growth and our national development.
  12. Mr Lim’s ongoing story – at 74 years young – and his career is a testament to the resilience of our Merdeka generation of artists, as well as to the longevity of their work which transcends different generations. It speaks to us at different times and to different generations of Singaporeans, but we can find something in the art that relates to us in our current times, and I think that is part of the brilliance of Mr Lim’s work.


    The Government is committed to supporting artists

  13. Our Pioneer and Merdeka generations of artists are crucial members of our arts community. It is our hope that artists like Mr Lim will continue to share their unique and distinctive voices through their works and mentor later generations of Singaporean artists. 
  14. The Government is committed to helping our artists, both new as well as experienced, to continue to create and to share and exhibit their works. Our SG Arts Plan (2023-2027), which I spoke about at our last Budget a few weeks ago, has charted our vision for how the arts can help to drive A Connected Society, a Distinctive City and a Creative Economy in Singapore.
  15. Through art, we can help people connect with their communities, as well as help our diverse communities connect with Singapore and our Singapore story. It helps Singaporeans relate to one another as well.
  16. In this year’s Budget, we announced that we will be investing a further $100 million over the next four years into the arts - to support artists as well as arts groups alike. 
  17. In the years ahead, the Government will continue to support our artists as they create and share works that educate and inspire audiences, both in Singapore and beyond.
  18. I would like to congratulate Mr Lim once again on this wonderful achievement and thank him for his contributions to Singapore, growing our history and heritage in our arts ecosystem. He is one of the pioneers. I hope that all of you will take the time to appreciate the art that we see on the walls. We are privileged this evening to be able to witness and appreciate and share in the talent that he has presented. Thank you very much. 
Last updated on 19 March 2024