Lim Yew Kuan (1928 - )
Born in 1928 Xiamen, China, Lim Yew Kuan came to Singapore during the Second World War to join his father, Lim Hak Tai, the founding principal of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). As a child, Lim learnt from his father before he graduated from NAFA with a major in Western Art in 1950. A founding member of the Equator Art Society, a collective concerned with the social realist art styles, Lim began working on woodblock prints and paintings as part of a personal expression of the discursive conditions of social and political practices during the early post-war years. In 1958, he attended the Chelsea School of Art in London, where he trained in Western painting and printmaking techniques of etching and lithography. Due to his father’s ailing health, Lim was persuaded to take over the leadership of NAFA upon his return. In 1963, he was appointed principal of NAFA, a post he assumed for 16 years and later served as vice-principal, continuing his teaching duties until 1994.
For him, the years of struggle were filled with art making, nonetheless. Lim’s practice spans a range of mediums to reflect his Chinese heritage and Western art training. In 1966, Lim was among six artists who presented a major exhibition on the craft of woodcut at the National Library, Singapore. A proficient sculptor, Lim was also commissioned by the Singapore Istana to make marble busts of Singapore’s first two Presidents, Yusof Ishak and Benjamin Sheares, in 1997 and 1999, respectively. In recognition of his contributions as an art educator and artist, Lim was conferred the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Medal) in 1980 and Cultural Medallion in 2011. In 2021, Lim passed away at the National University Hospital in Singapore, aged 92, after sustaining a hip fracture in a fall.