9 Singaporean Artists You Need to Know

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Singaporean Artists Singapore Utopian Magazine

9 Singaporean Artists who has marked the art story becaming the icons for generation. Tan Swie Hian, Lim Tze Peng, Fan Shaohua, Cheong Soo Pieng, P. Gnana, Qin Wei, Lim Leong Seng, Khan Siong Ann & Ong Kim Sen.

1. Tan Swie Hian

Tan Swie Hian

Tan is a cultural icon in Singapore. He held his first exhibition in 1973 and ever since he has exhibited his paintings in oil, Chinese ink and acrylic, sculptures, calligraphy, cartogravures, prints and seal engravings in numerous solo and group shows in Singapore and worldwide. In 1987, he was conferred the Singapore Cultural Medallion.

He went on to win a Gold Medal in Salon des Artistes Francais, Paris in 1995 and the Seoul International Calligraphy Gold Medal in an international calligraphy exhibition to mark the Korea/Japan World Cup 2002. In 2003, he was conferred the prestigious Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum for outstanding artistic achievements and contribution to cross-cultural understanding. In the same year, the President of Singapore conferred on him the Meritorious Service Medal which is the highest honour for a cultural personality in the Republic.

2. Lim Tze Peng

Lim Tze Peng

Born in Singapore on 28 September 1921, Lim Tze Peng is one of Singapore’s most significant artists and a living legend. Renowned for his Chinese ink drawings and paintings of post-independence Singapore, he also practices Chinese calligraphy. Alongside numerous solo and group exhibitions, both local and international, his masterpieces are exhibited in the Singapore Art Museum and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and are part of many prestigious collections. Lim has been bestowed several awards including the Special Prize at the Commonwealth Art Exhibition in England in 1977 and the prestigious Cultural Medallion in Singapore in 2003.

Having a solid foundation in Chinese philosophy, art and culture, Lim also practiced Chinese calligraphy, especially in the 1990s. Lim’s creative impulses for his new works is clear, where previously it was “I see and I paint, now it’s I reflect and I paint.”

3. Fan Shaohua

Fan Shaohua

Fan Shao Hua is a multi-talented artist based in Singapore. Fan first started to learn ink painting at the age of ten, when he studied painting the human figure and bird and flower subjects. He graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Arts in 1985, specialising in oil painting. Fan has been a full time artist since then, dividing his time between his art practice and teaching for almost three decades. He moved to Singapore in 1992, where he has made his home since then.

Fan clinched the top prize in the 19th UOB Painting of the Year award in 2000, and the International Premium Oil Painting Artist by the Hong Kong World Class Artist Committee, 2008, among several other awards. Most recently, Fan was invited to stage solo exhibitions at the most prestigious art museums of China, presenting “Essence.Life” in Shanghai Art Museum in Shanghai, Guangzhou Art Museum in Guangzhou, and the National Art Museum of China in Beijing. Having received many achievements and accolades, Fan has established himself as one of the premier Asian artists today.

4. Cheong Soo Pieng

Cheong Soo Pieng was a first-generation Singapore artist and one of the seminal pioneers of the Nanyang style of art. Trained at the Xiamen Fine Art Academy and the Xinhua Academy of Fine Arts in Shanghai, Cheong relocated to Singapore after World War II and taught art at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts for many years. During this time, he established an art practice marked by a unique integration of Western and East Asian traditions, and constant experimentation with different styles and mediums that resulted in exciting, new styles of abstract and figurative art. He is best known for his series of Balinese paintings depicting languorous women with elongated limbs and almond eyes, and remains celebrated nationally and internationally today.

“I do not search for it (style) consciously or create it deliberately. It is a way of bringing order and intelligence to what an artist is doing. It is a memory marker and also a means of connecting different ideas and emotions, fusing them into a creative force.”

Cheong Soo Pheng, The Straits Times, 2 Aug 1983.

5. P. Gnana

P. Gnana

P. Gnana is a distinguished, leading painter and sculptor in Singapore. It is a fact that exemplary paintings by Gnana are in the collections of the current President of the Republic of Singapore, of the Singapore Art Museum of the National Heritage Board in Singapore, and of Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal (current Member of Parliament for Bathinda, Punjab). Other collectors of his artworks include the Coutts Bank, Ascenda’s International Tech Park in Chennai (commission of 14 large-scaled abstract paintings in 2005), and several private corporations and individual art collectors in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Europe.

With great confidence and an abundance of practical and aesthetic ideas, Gnana transforms the meaning and purpose of mundane, everyday objects into awe-inspiring poignant expressions of urban relevance. His solo exhibition of sculptural installations and paintings, entitled Parallel Play: A Travelling Collection of Art by P. Gnana, was presented in Kuala Lumpur in 2010 and in New Delhi in 2011. Gnana made his debut in New York in 2011.

6. Qin Wei

Qin Wei is a media personality and one of Singapore’s most talented artistic prodigy. His work is often viewed in relation to the sensibilities of Pop Art, of reproduced images from pop culture, in the commercial style of advertising and mass communication .While his deliberation upon Pop Art’s obsession with the everyday and its critique of popular culture is seen in his selection of content for his work, his focus is less the concerns of commercialism per se as its effects and the reflective process engendered.

Cartoon superheroes, advertising copy and real-life photographs are distilled into attention-grabbing tableaux of the bold and the beautiful, which function as eye-catching retablos for the worship of mass consumption and popular culture. The irony is not lost on the artist, but his purpose is not so much critique as creative composition: he appropriates images randomly and reinterpretes them using his own colours and aesthetics.

7. Lim Leong Seng

Lim Leong Seng

As a full-time sculptor and painter, Leong Seng has participated in many local and overseas exhibitions in Belgium, China, England, Japan, Korea, Paris, Southeast Asia and Taiwan since 1969. Working mainly out of Singapore and Thailand, Lim has completed numerous publicly and privately commissioned sculptures in Singapore including: Singapore Zoological Gardens, Singapore Tourism Board, Kallang Theatre, Housing Development Board and SIA.

He has created more than 30 public sculptures. In 2001, after he created live-sized bronze sculptures of early immigrants here depicting a Chinese coolie, an Indian milk seller and a Mid-Autumn Festival lantern procession for Telok Ayer Green, a park near the Central Business District, he developed an interest in the life and culture of early immigrants. His later works include samsui women, rickshaw pullers, coolies in godowns and an Indian teh-tarik drink seller.

8. Khan Siong Ann

Khan Siong Ann

Established Singaporean artist Khan Siong Ann’s artworks varies in technique and medium such as oil painting, Chinese ink and watercolor, and along with the variety of themes he provided such as social gatherings, scenic records, lifestyle and nudes. Over time his art series became an extensive scale of visual indulgence.

Born in 1942, Khan originates from Chao Yang province in Guangdong. After graduation from high school, Khan went on to study arts in NAFA of Singapore, of which he graduated in 1967. Having keen interested in French artistic style and technique, he embark on journey to Paris and took him 15 years of hard work and determination to master the artistic style of French painting. During those years he also continue to practice his watercolor and calligraphy of which he managed to sell for his source of income during the stay in Paris. His works were also enlisted as “Artworks from popular Chinese Artist” and curated for postal stamp printing as well.

9. Ong Kim Seng

Ong Kim Seng

Behind languid strokes and the iridescent meld of transient color lies the hand of a man enchanted by light, devoted to color and inspired by the honesty within the artistic throes of creation. A self-taught observer, traveler and passionate learner, Ong Kim Seng has climbed the ranks of formal appreciation to claim his title as one of the most celebrated watercolorists of our age, gaining international renown and staking his claim as a modern-day cultural treasure.

Born in 1945 in Singapore, Ong Kim Seng held a fascination for the arts since early childhood, steadily growing in skill and recognition to become a practiced and acclaimed connoisseur of colors and form. A patron and practitioner of the ‘plein-air’ technique, the artist has shown mastery over the capture of light, expertly using positive space and shadows to create stunningly realistic depictions of silhouettes and representation.

*images courtesy of the internet and artists’ inventories. 

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