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.
Seal carving is a pivotal art form in China’s cultural heritage and traditional culture, popularised during the sixteenth century. Seals are often made with soft rocks, wood and ivory. While the seal was a signature of power and authority in the past, it has since developed into an accessible art form used by people of various social classes. For Contemplation, Tan carved a seal on yueweizi stone, known for its lustrous quality.