Ong Tian Soo ( 1937 - )
Born in 1937, Singapore, Ong Tian Soo is an alumnus of Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and was an active member of the now defunct Equator Art Society. Ong first developed a liking for art when he started to do well for art competitions as a primary school student. His art teacher was pioneer Singaporean artist, See Hiang To, who was also Ong’s primary school principal. Under See’s encouragement, Ong cultivated his artistic interests and managed to form a close bond with his former mentor upon graduation. When Ong left for Chung Cheng High School, he decided that he wanted to pursue art. See, who was then teaching Chinese calligraphy at NAFA, who hence, knew the academy’s principal, Lim Hak Tai, personally, enrolled Ong into NAFA where he studied under the tutelage of other pioneer artists like Chen Wen Xi and Georgette Chen.
Ong was also an early member of the Equators Art society. He taught painting classes that were held regularly at the society’s headquarters on Saturdays from 1957 to 1966 and had produced works in various mediums such as woodcut prints, sculpture, pencil drawings and oil painting. Established in 1956, the Equator Art Society consisted of a group of artists who were eager to promote the social realist art style in Singapore. In 1964, the society came under fire over its leftist leanings. In 1972, the society disbanded along with the nation’s declining interest in the social realist art style. Though Ong has always been passionate about art and wanted a career in one, circumstances did not allow him to do so. With the passing of his father, Ong had to bring home the bacon. This started his lifelong career in advertising since the 1970s.