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Resources > Collections > Artist Tew Nai Tong

Tew Nai Tong (1936 – 2013)

Born in 1936, Klang, Malaysia, Tew Nai Tong came to Singapore at the age of 21 to pursue his art education at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. Upon graduation, Tew had to work to raise funds for his further studies, honing his craft in his spare time for nine years before he enrolled in the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts, Paris in 1967. Prior to his education in France, Tew had already made his mark in the Malaysian art scene, holding his first solo exhibition at the British Council in Kuala Lumpur in 1964. While Tew had mainly focused on sketching and watercolour painting during his early years, his training in oil and figurative painting in Paris, along with the kaleidoscope of arts and culture he was exposed to during his time in Europe began to shape his practice, giving form to his signature style. Proficient in both oil and watercolour, Tew is best known for his playful oil paintings of distinctive figures. His depiction of carefree rural living and landscapes of old Malaya, expressed in coloured patches of geometric-like forms, often feature phoenix-eyed women at work or leisure. 

Tew was also an art educator. He taught at the Malaysian Institute of Art from 1969 to 1980, Central Academy of Art from 1982 to 1985 and was the department head at Saito Academy of Art from 1986 to 1988. Tew also co-founded the Malaysian Watercolour Society in 1982 and the Contemporary Malaysian Watercolourist Association in 1994. In 2009, Tew was awarded Grand Prize Asia Art Award in Seoul, South Korea for his artistic contributions to Malaysia and the wider Asian community. Tew passed away in 2013.