Teo Han Wue


Teo Han Wue was previously a journalist and arts writer at The Straits Times where he later became the editor of its Bilingual (Chinese/English, Malay/English and Tamil/English) Section as well as the head of translation. He has also been a director at the National Arts Council of Singapore overseeing arts development, education, research and publication, and the executive director of Art Retreat incorporating the Wu Guanzhong Gallery, which was Singapore's first private museum of Asian and Southeast Asian Art.  He has written extensively about visual artists such as Wu Guanzhong, Siew Hock Meng, Lee Man Fong, Yeh Chi Wei, Chua Ek Kay, Lim Tze Peng and Tang Da Wu as well as theatre artist Kuo Pao Kun in English and Chinese for publications at home and abroad.  He was the editor and translator of both English and Chinese editions of Legends: Soo Bin’s Portraits of Chinese Ink Masters (2006), which have, over the years, accompanied photographer Chua Soo Bin exhibition of the same name featuring portraits of fourteen senior distinguished ink painters in and outside China. Most recently, he contributed the chapter “The Story of Singapore Art” in both the Chinese and English editions of A General History of the Chinese in Singapore, published in 2015 and 2019 respectively. 

Staff of the Shanghai Book Company at an exhibition in 1965, Singapore. (Photo provided by Zhang Langhui)

How the Shanghai Book Company enlivened Singapore's cultural scene

In December 2020, family and friends of Shanghai Book Co Ltd produced a commemorative book of the now-defunct bookstore. Founded in 1925, Shanghai Book Co Ltd played a pivotal role in shaping the consciousness of Chinese-speaking Singaporeans in the 1950s. It was a meeting point of ideas and voices, not only from greater China, but within Southeast Asia. In fact, it had helped to nurture the budding interest of Chinese-speaking young students in Malay language and culture. Teo Han Wue recounts how this bookshop in North Bridge Road, easily stereotyped as Chinese-centric, became instead an emblem of openness and cultural diversity.