Each of these outstanding artists have established strong identities and developed unique approaches towards their individual art-practices, with deep influences from Chinese ink art culture. It is indeed a wonderful opportunity to be the only Southeast Asian gallery to participate in Art New York this year, and we hope to be able to pre-sent fresh perspectives and new options to the audience.
The striking figural forms of Taiwanese master sculptor, Ju Ming (b. 1938) embody Chinese traditions and modern abstract aesthetics all at once. The iconic carved-wood reliefs from his Living World series and the bronze sculptures from his signature Taichi series are deeply influenced by the charismatic and spontaneous strokes of the Chinese ink painting and calligraphy style known as 写意 (xiě yì), and Taijiquan, the ancient Chinese form of martial arts in which man and nature form a close unity. Ju Ming’s works have been exhibited and collected extensively around the world, in public institutions, private collections and major corporations including the Canada Botanical Gardens, University of Cambridge (U.K), University of Oxford (U.K), Tel Aviv Museum of Art (Israel), National Museum of Singapore, the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the National Art Museum of China. Similarly rooted in Chinese ink painting and calligraphy are the works of the late Irene Chou (b. 1924-2011), one of Hong Kong’s forerunning artists of the New Ink Painting movement during the 1960s-70s. Chou was recognized for her prominent breakthrough in modernizing traditional Chinese ink painting. She suffered from a stroke in 1991 and despite being greatly weakened, continued to produce works that brimmed with unbridled energy and emotion. They reflect her strong and unwavering artistic spirit in redefining Chinese ink painting, even in times of difficulty. Chou’s works have been collected by public institutions and private collections including the British Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of Arts, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, ADC House (Brisbane, Australia), Biopolis (Singapore), Keppel Bay Tower (Singapore) and Menara Standard Chartered (Kuala Lumpur).
Mythological themes familiar to Asian culture are brought to life in Tang Da Wu’s (b. 1943) large scale ink paintings. Filled with motion and energy, the majestic paintings demonstrates Tang’s ability to transcend conventional imageries of flowers, birds and landscapes commonly seen in Chinese ink art. Tang is regarded as a leading pioneer of Singapore and Southeast Asian contemporary art and is recognized for his inspirational achievements as a founder of The Artists’ Village and for raising awareness on social and environmental issues through a wide array of media, ranging from paintings, sculptures, performance to installation art. Akin to the dynamic nature of Tang’s paintings is the poetic and free-spirited visual language of Zhuang Shengtao (b. 1944), also regarded as a pioneer artist of Singapore during the 1980s. As a literati scholar who was schooled in the Chinese Classics, ink painting and calligraphy for most of his formative years, Zhuang’s works exude the elegance of a skilled Chinese calligrapher, yet boldly embrace the aesthetics of Western abstract expressionism. They are a synthesis of traditional and modern themes, where rhythmic brush strokes and abstract characters meet; reminiscent of post-war Western art, yet retaining the fundamentals and symbolism of Chinese calligraphy.
Prolific artist and art educator, Milenko Prvacki (b. 1951) has been based in Singapore for over more than two decades. He is a recipient of the prestigious Singapore Cultural Medallion Award for Visual Arts (2012) and has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Europe, Australia, USA and around Asia. His works are in the permanent collection of the Gallery of New South Wales, Australia, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore and the Museum of Contemporary Drawing, Germany among others. Formally trained in Eastern European painting, Prvacki was enthralled by Chinese ink painting (水墨, shui mo) when he first moved to Singapore from Yugoslavia in 1991. His oil and acrylic paintings display visible Chinese ink influences, evident in the light washes and layers of colors and brush strokes together with the distinctive method of featuring various narratives around the canvas as opposed to the idea of a singular focal narrative in Western art. As a whole, Prvacki’s abstract works are informed by personal experiences, yet are also pertinent to societal issues. He often employs several elements that are at the same time, figurative yet ambiguous, prompting viewers to question the representative nature of painting by examining the relation-ship between abstraction and figuration. Chinese artist Jin Jie (b. 1965), firmly believes that Chinese oil painting should have a identity in its own right and has to be distinguishable from its Western counterpart. Based on the Chinese style of ink painting (写意) that is characterized by unrestrained and eloquent brush strokes, Jin Jie’s imageries of rural landscapes in the province of Jiangsu (China), display a clear mastery of Western oil painting techniques, yet skillfully captures the quintessence and depth of Chinese culture and aesthetics within his subject matters. The focus of his paintings lies not on the detailed renditions of his subjects, but on its essence as a whole. They offer an intimate and introspective view of his connection with the landscapes he paints. Jin Jie has exhibited extensively in China and is a member of the prestigious China Artists Association amongst many other notable appointments in his homeland. His works are collected by museums in China and many other public institutions and private collections.
Oh Chai Hoo (b. 1960) and Tay Bak Chiang (b. 1973) are both Singapore contemporary artists whose works resonate deeply with Chinese traditions. Oh has participated in various solo and group exhibitions in Singapore, Taiwan, China, U.K, Korea and Japan and has won prestigious awards including the Highly Commendable Award for Abstract Medium in the 18th UOB Painting Competition, Singapore (1999). He works extensively with various artistic mediums, ranging from ink painting, seal carving to ceramics. Oh does not shy away from the use of deep black ink on rice paper and his experimental ink works exude an enigmatic quality that draws the viewer into a state of tranquility. He adeptly brings out a stunning sense of