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.
In this ink painting, Tan illustrated an older man from Little India during Deepavali, as suggested in writing on the right side of the paper. With intricate and modulated strokes, the artist emphasised the folds of the man’s garments. Tan also incorporated bright colours into this work to imbue a sense of vibrancy to the overall composition.