My introduction to the biographies of prominent historical figures from South Asia often came in the form of Amar Chitra Katha comics. And while today I see the series’ problematic nature, Amar Chitra Katha, with its distinctive logo, is still familiar and dear.
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So, I sort of loved Warm Nights, Deathless Days: The Life of Georgette Chen, a comic book biography of a painter best-known for her Post Impressionistic-styled oil paintings, published by National Gallery Singapore. I knew little of her life, and Sonny Liew’s illustrations served as a straightforward introduction. The book chronicles her early days as a student at the Art Students League in New York City and Academie Colarossi and Academie Biloul in Paris to her winning of Singapore’s prestigious Cultural Medallion. Reading Warm Nights, Deathless Days: The Life of Georgette Chen also prompted me to return to Singapore Art Museum to see her “Nanyang” style works (a style that was characterized by its hybrid art form incorporating Asian themes and Western techniques). The Museum owns 104 of her paintings, though I wonder if they will move to the National Gallery Singapore once that institution opens.