Within the calligraphy fraternity of exponents in Singapore – an ever growing force in visual art – the surge towards creativity by the artist – calligrapher is intense resulting in the aspiration to create calligraphy artworks of the highest calibre with a strong personal identity. The inspiration towards this is diverse and wide-ranging and among them are the intriguing fusion of the fusion-oracle script or the running script with the dynamic elements of abstract art such as interplay of space, line, plane with a powerful focus. Other inspirations are related to the evocation of the sensibilities for example music, dance and such visual elements as mobility, speed, momentum, rhythm, motion and tension.
- Lim Tze Peng’s artistic evolution is unique and intriguing. Over several decades of dedication to painting, his art entered one transition after another. An oil painting series on the theme Singapore River in the 60s brings to light the force of his single- minded focus in visual expression. His urban renewal series capture the nostalgic passion for old Singapore. The emergence of his abstract calligraphy reveals how the penetrating revolutionary process of decades has endowed his calligraphy with stunning visual power. Lim says: “I’m still reaching towards greater height in my art.”
- Goh Yau Kee is a disciple of distinguished calligrapher Tsui Da Di whose dynamic liberal style with lyrical power contributed significantly to the development of modern Chinese calligraphy in Singapore. Goh says “Tsui instilled in me a passion for calligraphy art. As I evolve my own calligraphy, I am motivated by the Chinese philosophy of I-ching, music also stirs my imagination and instincts thus enhance my calligraphy practice.
- Teng Wen Chang enlightens: “In my calligraphy practice I trace through history’s notable calligraphy artworks as far back as the Tang Dynasty and even beyond. Thus, in my work I combine past traditional techniques which are still relevant with modern techniques to evolve a dynamic style.” Teng’s calligraphic work titled 开云 has the power to evoke the emotion.
- Sim Pang Liang’s versatility and ambition emerge gradually through an inconspicuous process. His wide-ranging artistic involvements: an early series of abstract paintings in 1960s; metal reliefs fusing abstraction and Chinese calligraphy; lyrical calligraphy; abstract symbol; calligraphy. The current abstract phase where he explores the possibilities of black solid mass to evoke a powerful visual impact has great potential.
The artists of high calibre in the realm of the highly sophisticated Chinese Ink Painting now conscious of their tremendous, encompassing achievement-sustain practice, commanding grasp of the intricate painting process and interactions with some of China’s influential ink painting exponents – presently set themselves ambitious sights. The artists’ new directions are diverse: continuously widening the scope of an artists, distinct practice such as re-interpretation of a theme is one way. How an artist aspires to more contemplative work which characteristics are lyrical and evocative visual power is another challenge.
- An artist who makes great demands on himself, Wee Beng Chong has always aspired towards quality, diversity and, particularly, inventiveness in his encompassing artistic pursuit. In the 1970s he created a series of abstract paintings and sculptures characterised by the fusion of stark simplicity, visual impact and austere minimalism. In recent years, Wee immersed himself fully in the Chinese arts. In the Chinese ink painting, his major concern, he subjected his work to a series transitions until the transitional elements become monumental abstract works which possess the power to provoke curiosity and stir the imagination. Wee was awarded the prestigious, Cultural Medallion, Singapore,
- A disciple of master-painter Fan Chang Tien, Nai Swee Leng swiftly established his own unique style in Chinese Ink Painting fusing traditional techniques with modern concepts – a style with lyrical power. Now, at the peak of his artistic career, he is inspired to paint contemplative and profound artwork. He says: “The clarity and sensitivity in a work are crucial. The line expression still has potential. Without preconception, my work now is open to the chance of encounters which bring about thrilling visual effects.”
- Tan Kian Por’s encompassing repertoire in the realm of Chinese art – painting, calligraphy, seal carving – is staggering. Equally admirable is how he continuously evolves the various disciplines – Dramatic shifts take place when his modern ‘Blue Lotus series’ is replaced by his Black Lotus series. Continually subjecting his calligraphy to renewal – his bold script evolves into his lyrical script. Poetry now dominates his art. Awarded the prestigious Cultural Medallion, Singapore, 2001.
- Stephen Leong’s captivating painting – Fantasy Landscape, of generous scale – immediately reflects his multi-discipline background as an art practitioner; specialisation in graphic design, professional photography, modern Chinese ink painting. The combination of concepts and technique from Chinese artistic practice, Western artistic practice and his own ideas become an innovative force which gives the work its invigorate freshness. The visual surprises further enhance the spirited painting.
- A tour in Northern China, Yunan in 2000 where he encountered the rainforest he was immediately, overwhelmed by the visual impact and subsequently the experience inspired his ongoing Rainforest series which celebrates the wonders of nature. The artist is Terence Teo. He says: “The invigorating visual richness of the rainforest elevates the viewer…evoking a diversity of responses”. Teo is currently the President of Singapore Art Society.
- Tung Yue Nang has proven over and over that technical virtuosity is his artistic forte. He is ever ready to face the daunting artistic challenges. In his “Nonya Series” he captures with precision the authenticity and identity of the Nonya culture; in his Bali series he captures the atmospheric sensations with evocative sensitivity. The new Chinatown series has an ambitious goal. Attempting to rejuvenate the aura of Chinatown he penetrates into the present and the past, the customs and the culture.
- Ling Yang Chang is an intellectual artist who has the passion to re-invent new idioms from established ones so as to rejuvenate the creative process. His array of artistic series are directed towards different concerns. In his encounters series, he fuses revitalised traditional Chinese ink techniques with Western concepts. In his Chinatown series he captures the spirit and ethos of Chinatown with the evocative nuances of Chinese ink. His current series titled Symbols, is characterised by its power of visual simplicity.
- Lim Choon Jin’s serious commitment in Chinese ink painting is unquestionable. His first series – Nature’s Splendours series, painted from studies at the Himalayan region, reflects his unorthodox style in a realm of art bounded by tradition. Lim, in his LaSALLE College of the Arts residency series, explores unexploited possibilities within the nuances in the ink medium. It’s a vital exercise. In his successful Iridescence series, Lim deploys clarity and harmonious tones to achieve his souring open spaces.
- Hui Yuet Heung’s single-minded pursuit to depict the orchid, the national flower is admirable. She began by setting in motion a system to unlock all the necessary fundamentals – captivating composition arrangement, colour harmony, flowing lines, textual effects – and then she continued with an approach which combines calculation and freedom, instinctive-ness with experience. With this, she penetrated into the visual layers and nuances to rejuvenate the floral form.
With its substantial fraternity, characterised by its ever growing number of committed and experienced exponents, high proficiency in techniques, and with more and more exponents elevated to the ranks of watercolour exponents of calibre, the watercolour fraternity is an artistic force to reckon with. However, there is a distinct few who having achieved the highly desired technical command, aspire towards great heights in an artistic medium known for its intricate process and, because of this, also known for its untold artistic potential as proven by the great exponents. These courageous few want to embrace a form of watercolour art that is inventive exploiting the dynamic elements of abstract art.
- Ng Woon Nam’s prize-winning watercolour, ‘A Sunlight Morning’, ‘Companions’, AWS Bronze Medal of Honour, USA reveals his exceptional artistic talent for realism art. In his current watercolour pursuit, Ng goes beyond realism to wrestle with suggestive abstract elements enhanced by captivating spaces, mobility, invigoration, expressionism.
- What makes Seah Kang Chui’s watercolour approach distinctive is his perpetual evolution. Motivated by his constant travels abroad to encounter new inspirations and his belief in experimentation, he endorses the frequent shifts in his works. “As I eliminate the superfluous and enhance the essentials, I find my artworks moving away from realism towards abstraction with its dynamism. For me every new work is a new beginning with fresh possibilities”, said Seah.
- Low Puay Hua graduated from NAFA in 1965. His paintings have been exhibited widely; in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, China and England. He has won many accolades for his artistic achievements. Notable artistic achievement: Although Low’s versatility in painting is all embracing – realism, abstract painting, Chinese ink painting and thematically of landscape, street scene and old haunts, it is his captivating series of watercolours of the 1960s to
1980s that is most memorable. Eloquently fluid and enchantingly transparent, the series captures the human endurance from dawn to dust caught in dramatic atmospheric light.
For the modern art painter the options for his artistic inspirations are far and wide. At his own doorstep, is a profusion of nostalgic landmarks which will immediately seize his imagination and spurs him to creating a work of art in which the past and the present juxtapose with visual intrigue. Fascinating contrasts between the bygone physical features and the modern setting will emerge to tantalise the mind. For the adventurous artist seeking novelty, a painting and sketching expedition to a far away destination will result in unimaginably visual imageries for transformation into alluring paintings of romance. Then, there are those fascinated by the unending intriguing possibilities of the painting language itself. How a swift and ferocious brush stroke can be the finishing master-stroke, how the strategic interplay of spaces can achieve resounding visual evocation and how expressionist colours – inspired by Vincent van Gogh – can heighten the emotions.
- In Tan Choh Tee’s early Chinatown scenes painted in the 1970s and 1980s, his passion for sharp observation and an eye for minute details brought out the hidden elements of old shophouses – due to wear and tear and weather erosion – resulted in among the most visually intriguing paintings. Though currently, he paints diverse scenes abroad – Malaysia and Thailand – the penetration style is very much still evident.
- Wang Fei’s river-scene is a painting with many captivating visual elements. First, it is a strikingly fresh interpretation of a popular theme. Such is his flair in the colour tonality – often underexploited – that he can create an array of visual effects – contrast, striking focus, realism. His painting at once has the strength of precision and yet the titillation of suggestiveness. It is the mesmerising visual effects in the water’s reflections that captivate the viewer as the more he concentrates the more he discovers.
- Zhu Hong – hailed from China – with his quick thinking, sharp observation, swift brushstrokes and the ability to seize an opportunity and capture the essence of a place instantly, elevated his watercolour Chinatown series to become an exciting fresh interpretation of the landmark. Overnight he has captured the imagination of a wide audience. Since then different series on varies themes emerged. In his stylised sumptuously whitish background linear series, he again gives his own visual interpretation on preserved landmarks, for example, Little India and Keong Siak Road.
- Inspired by the influential French artist, Henri Matisse’s bold emancipation of the French Impressionists’ colours, and, in turn, inspired the Fauvist Movement, Ho Kah Leong infuses his paintings with expressionist vibrant hues ultimately creating 12 distinct series of paintings. The themes of these series are: Pulau Ubin, the garden ambience, the harbour. Currently travelling abroad frequent, Ho takes on the challenges of capturing scenes and landscapes which enchant him.
- Ang Ah Tee had an ambition in the 1980s. To forge his own artistic identity he would search for imageries from different corners of the world and transform them into paintings the viewer finds irresistible. Thus, his painting, sketching expeditions – to Bali, Shanghai, Egypt, Venice, London. Currently, he continues to explore his visual enchantments ‘through the renewal of his artistic repertoire. Marina Bay Sands has new dimensions: monumental scale, sweeping dramatic view, contemplative atmospheric sensations. Awarded the prestigious Cultural Medallion, Singapore, 2006.
- Teo Kim Liong graduated from NAFA in 1956. With the distinction of being a notable fine artist and a notable computer engineer, Teo’s achievements as a fine artist is wide-ranging: Research scholar certificate, Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing, MFA, Slade School of Fine Art, London, several solos and group exhibitions. Notable artistic achievement: In the 1990s, Teo painted a series of nudes which were characterised by their technical flair and stunning realism. International critics have commented on Teo’s current paintings as “full of luminosity and feelings”.
- Chieu Shuey Fook’s forte in artistic creation: inventiveness. Almost from scratch, he conceived of the idea that a sheet of metal going through the process of etching and then painted with industrial paints could emerge as a work of fine art. Working in isolation, he has created an impressive body of metal reliefs exuding striking design and evocative colours. he says; ‘Every work is a new venture with life of its own.”
- Ang Hiong Chiok is a graduate of Singapore Academy of Arts. He was tutored by Sunyee whose liberal teaching in painting produced a select number of successful painters. Ang has mounted 5 solo exhibitions. He is currently President of Society of Chinese Artists, Singapore. Notable artistic achievement: In 2005, Ang held his exhibition “Mangosteen Fantasy” which featured 30 works – a fusion of realism technique and surrealism fantasy, supported by a collection of poetry by Gareth Rosser. The paintings mirrored Ang’s reflections of life.
- Leo Hee Tong identified an appealing painting theme the pigeons – and took it through a series of transitions: from the simplicity to the complex, the monochromatic to the harmonious colours, the figurative to the semi-abstract. Interspersing this consistent line is the occasional attempt in contemplative symbolic abstract works in the realm of neutral colours – white, grey, black – to explore fresh possibilities.
- Poh Siew Wah’s current artistic involvement is the culmination of several transitory series – Chinatown scenes, travel landscapes, colour explorations, brushstroke expression, moderate scale abstractions. He says, “My present abstract paintings – in monumental scale – are contemplative works with a universal theme. I want to instil in my work energy, spiritualism and mysticism.”
- Choy Weng Yang – “My painting is characterised by a number of distinct phases of development: Impressionism, Colour Interaction, Abstract Impressionism and, more recently, Monochromatic Minimalist Works.”
- Many times prize-winning artist Goh Beng Kwan widely admired for his early abstract paintings characterised by their oriental motifs and creative composition arrangement. Presently, he is immersed in the challenge of works of monumental scale with their vast boundaries and integration problems. Simultaneously, he explores fresh possibilities in the evocative nuances of abstract expression. Awarded the prestigious, Cultural Medallion, Singapore, 1989.
- In his involvement of portrait painting – one of the most demanding yet most fascinating of artistic pursuits – Sio Sit Min’s perpetual practice has span over 2 decades. Sio chooses to follow the brilliant portrait masters who instead of just capturing the likeness of the model’s face – itself a daunting challenge – aspires to infuse it with vigour, character, personality, life itself. In his portrait in this publication, Sio says: “I believe I have captured the personality and vitality of the person.”