Singaporean-born Tan Ping Chiang is an artist whose oeuvre is recognised for incorporating design elements in his paintings, wood reliefs and sculpture. A graduate of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Singapore, Tan obtained his Diploma in Graphic Design in England in the 1970s. Tan returned to the Academy to lead the Department of Applied Arts from 1981-1992 and the Department of Fine Arts from 1987-1991. Following this, he acquired his Master’s Degree in Food Packaging Design from the University of Western Sydney, Australia, in 1998. Tan was an active Modern Art Society Singapore member in the 1960s. His career is greatly inspired by the cultures and everyday life in Asian cities, reflected in the flowing forms, lines and whimsical expressions often present in his works.
Tan first showcased the Coffee Shop Series in 2015, intending to document scenes of common encounters at local coffee shops. As a casual setting, the coffee shop is visited by people from all walks of life–both young and old, where their daily interactions bring forth a unique local culture and atmosphere. The first work from the series is predominately rendered with sinuous lines, whereas Coffee Orchestra, which was completed in 2017, saw the artist exploring angular lines. The chaotic scenes that dominate the composition of the work suggest that many layers of social interactions, networks and communities could develop and thrive from the humble premise of the coffee shop. The sights and sounds of the coffee shop, at any given point in time, also assemble different kinds of noises and symphonies, like an orchestra of everyday life.