The founding principal of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), Lim Hak Tai, was one of Singapore’s most notable artists. Adept in Western oil painting, Chinese ink painting and calligraphy, Lim integrates Western and Chinese techniques while portraying Southeast Asian subject matter. This style of work is known as the “Nanyang style”. Lim ensured that the school he established embraced similar sentiments. The curriculum was one of the first schools in Asia to strike a balance between Western and Chinese art traditions in the curriculum, an initiative that NAFA still embraces today.
Bamboo attests to Lim’s mastery of Chinese ink painting and his rich brushwork ink techniques. The bamboo is completed in the xieyi style, exaggerated to bring forth the significance of the bamboo. The bamboo is considered one of The Four Gentlemen in Chinese art and is a common subject matter depicted in Chinese paintings. It symbolises tolerance and open-mindedness, whereas the flexibility and strength of the stalk represent cultivation and integrity.