Singaporean artist Tan Kee Sek was primarily trained in Western painting at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. His interests, however, lay in Chinese art from a young age. Tan had the opportunity to strengthen his skills in Chinese ink painting when he was mentored by pioneer artist See Hiang To. Tan was greatly influenced by See and went on to pursue Chinese painting, calligraphy, and seal carving after he graduated from NAFA in 1970. Tan was one of the founders of the Siaw Tao Chinese Seal-Carving, Calligraphy & Painting Society. For the past five decades, while Tan has explored and innovated in his practice, he concurrently nurtures the next generation of budding artists specialising in Chinese ink at the Academy.
After years of research, observation and replicating works by master calligraphers, Tan paints the Chinese character “壽”, which means longevity in English. The strokes employed in the upper segment of the character are largely angular in form, exemplifying Tan’s excellent control of the brush and ink and the use of space. By contrast, he renders the character’s base with looser strokes to create a visual balance in the work.