Tiger Artist Tan Seng Yong Captures War and Peace Through His Work
Since 2022 is the Year of the Tiger, renowned Singaporean artist Tan Seng Yong’s “War and Peace” exhibition of tiger paintings could not have come at a better time.
Tigers have been a symbol of strength, power and wisdom for centuries. Tan’s paintings highlight these qualities and capture the dual nature of their aggression and tenderness. Whether it is a territorial stance in the midst of combat or as a family unit with playful cubs—the ferocious animal is protective of what’s his or hers.
Tan has dedicated most of his life to being an artist since 1961 by first honing his technique at the National Taiwan Normal University’s Department of Fine Arts before returning to Singapore in 1965. Four years later, Tan began teaching art and retired in 2002. Along the way, he was an active member of the Modern Art Society, Singapore Art Society and the Society of Chinese artists. Gradually, Tan made a name for himself as the “Tiger Artist” and got commissioned by companies like Tiger Brewery and ExxonMobil to paint what he is known for.
At 80, Tan’s fervour is still present. In fact, most of his paintings in the “War and Peace” collection have been completed in the last five years. Depending on the size, each painting, created in the traditional gongbi (fine-line) style, ranges from S$6,000 to S$18,000. Currently, the artist has close to 400 tiger paintings under his name despite discarding 3,000 that were not up to par.
Tan always had a deep fascination for tigers and would spend the day at the zoo, studying their movements and expressions. While it is no surprise that Tan can bring such life-like detail, attention and depth to his paintings, it is also how he uses gouache to create strong rich tones and his control of the motion and precision of each brush stroke. Most of the paintings on display are in colour, but according to Tan, the black and white ones were the most difficult to create as simplicity is hard to achieve.
So far, the gallery has sold six pieces of artwork.
“War and Peace” is open from 12:30pm to 6pm until August 8 at Converge Art Gallery, 01-59A, 231 Bain Street, Bras Basah Complex Singapore.