The late Singaporean artist Tan Kian Por was formally trained in Western painting and learnt Chinese brush painting under the mentorship of pioneer artists See Hiang To and Chen Chong Swee at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts from 1968 to 1970. Born in Chaozhou, China, Tan’s passion and interest were Chinese painting, calligraphy and seal carving. Upon his graduation from the Academy, Tan continued to focus on Chinese art and literature. He was an active member of the Siaw Tao Chinese Seal-Carving, Calligraphy & Painting Society, where he furthered his practice and gained knowledge in traditional Chinese art. Tan established himself as an artist known for incorporating abstract expressionist features in his Chinese ink paintings.
Couplets are pivotal to China’s cultural heritage and traditional culture. This poetic medium often conveys messages of blessings and is offered as a gift. In the semi-cursive script, Tan wrote thirty-nine Chinese characters on bright mustard-coloured hanging scrolls. His characters are made of modulated and short brushstrokes that evoke an almost staccato-like rhythm, a distinct style that is also found in his other pieces.