The show, running until Sept 18, is being held at Xu's former residence in Chongqing, where he went from Beijing in the 1930s to escape Japanese troops. The house has been renovated into a public art museum named after Xu and to display his works. "Peon" was how Xu spelled his name in French while studying at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris in the 1920s.
It was also from Chongqing that Xu set out on his journey to Singapore. The exhibition is, therefore, also a celebration of Xu's role as a cultural ambassador, connecting the city-state, where he enjoyed a fan base, with his home country.
Xu first visited Singapore in 1919, a transitory stop en route to Paris where he would then attend the fine arts school. In Paris, he met Huang Menggui, Huang Manshi's brother, who introduced Xu to overseas Chinese business figures to make their portraits when Xu encountered financial difficulty. The Huang brothers had been faithful sponsors of Xu's artistic journey and his "first confidants in life" as Xu himself had called them.
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