Aw Tee Hong (1932 – 2021)
Aw Tee Hong was born in 1932 in Wenchang, China, and later moved to Kelantan, Malaysia, to flee the Sino-Japanese war. In 1950, he migrated to Singapore. The following year, Aw studied at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and pursued further education at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China. Departing China upon graduating in 1958, Aw returned to Singapore, where he produced artworks that reflect local experiences and the transformations taking place in the city. A common subject matter in his earlier works were woodcut prints of people, specifically samsui women, hawkers, and coolies. Always open to experimentation, Aw was one of few local artists proficient in various mediums. During the age of industrialisation in the 1970s, Aw employed industrial materials such as fibreglass and enamel. He also was known for his use of paper relief, featured in his exhibition in 1972, pushing the boundaries of art mediums within the local art scene. Aw worked closely with the Singapore Tourism Promotion Board to develop cultural products, such as Chinese opera masks and was invited to participate in trade shows abroad to promote the artworks of Singapore.
The artist has exhibited his works at more than 30 solo exhibitions throughout his career. The constant pursuit of excellence in his art, coupled with his versatility, has made him one of the most sought-after artists in Singapore. His works were acquired by numerous public and private organisations and have even been presented as gifts to foreign dignitaries. Other commissioned works include the artworks on display at Raffles Place and Tanjong Pagar MRT Stations and sculptural pieces along the Singapore River. Aw passed away in 2021.