Gog Sing Hooi 吴承惠 b.1933 – 1994
Gog Sing Hooi (b. 1933, Guangdong, China–d. 11 February 1994, Singapore) was one of Singapore’s pioneer watercolour painters. He was known for his transparent watercolour depictions of Singapore street scenes and of the Singapore River. He helped co-found the Singapore Watercolour Society in 1969, and was a strong promoter and supporter of the watercolour art form.
Gog began his artistic journey with caricature drawings and portraiture in his teens. Not long after, he ventured into transparent watercolour painting, and remained faithful to it all his life. This medium necessitates the mix of colours with water, unlike the denser body-colour method in which pigments are mixed with opaque white to obtain different shades. Transparent watercolour painting employs thin washes that allow the whiteness of the paper to shine through, giving the subject depicted a clear luminosity.
The Singapore River was a favourite subject of Gog’s work. He and fellow painters would meet unfailingly on Sundays to paint at the river bank. Other outdoor subjects included Chinese temples and Singapore street scenes from the 1970s and ’80s, some of which no longer exist today. Gog also painted landmarks such as Coleman Bridge. The bridge brought back fond memories for him as he used to visit the area when courting his wife.
Although he never became a full-time artist and remained a teacher for pragmatic reasons, Gog’s technical virtuosity is undisputed. Discerning art patrons, such as the late former president Ong Teng Cheong, were collectors of his works. Gog also championed the art of watercolour painting, and was one of the persistent voices that called for the creation of the Singapore Watercolour Society in the 1960s. He was an active member of the society throughout his life and sat on various society committees. He was also instrumental in the artistic development of younger members, mentoring them during those Sunday sessions by the Singapore River.
Gog taught for over 30 years at various schools before retiring, when he was finally able to paint full-time.
Shortly after retirement, Gog succumbed to complications from cancer surgery and passed away at the age of 61 on 11 February 1994