Self-taught artist Lim Tze Peng is one of Singapore’s most prominent artists. His artworks do not adhere to the traditions of Western painting nor Chinese calligraphy. Instead, he adopts different aspects of art forms that appeal to him and, by doing so, envisions creating artworks that are universal.
This scroll, which reflects Lim’s early approach to Chinese calligraphy, was gifted to the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1989. Despite his lack of formal training, Lim developed a distinctive style in the 2000s that consisted of expressive and dynamic brushstrokes on the semi-cursive script, known as “muddled calligraphy”.
Grapes depicts the first two verses of the poem A Song of Liangzhou <<涼州词>>, written by Tang poet Wang Han. It reads “葡萄美酒夜光杯，欲饮琵琶马上催，醉卧沙场君莫笑，古来征战几人回”. The poem articulates the hardship of war and describes soldiers enjoying their final revelry – a last drink before being summoned to battle. It ends by foreshadowing and lamenting over the soldiers who would unlikely return from the war.