Hainan-born Tan Tee Chie is a second-generation Singaporean artist known for the series of socio-political woodcut prints and paintings created in the 1950s. The late artist was trained in Western painting and Chinese ink at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), where he graduated in 1951. Mentored by Singapore’s pioneer artists, Tan became an art educator at the Academy for over 40 years. In the early 1960s, he moved from grand socio-political discourses to themes that reflect local subjects, a movement that is associated with the Chinese diaspora’s aspiration in defining their own distinct identity in Southeast Asia. Besides woodcut prints, Tan is adept in Chinese ink, seal carving and oil painting.
Employing Chinese ink, Tan depicted a flock of birds mingling within the space, cautiously applying washes and layers of colour that evoke textural qualities. Tan used a muted colour palette overall, though he accentuated the pigeons’ piercing eyes and puffed chests with deep violets and red. The depiction of birds flocking together symbolises the importance of harmony and peace, which the artist believed humanity should strive to achieve.