Lim Yew Kuan was born in Xiamen in 1928. He was a distinguished alumnus, artist and educator who dedicated more than three decades to nurturing and transforming the arts in Singapore. He served as NAFA’s second principal from 1963 to 1979, succeeding his father, Lim Hak Tai. Lim trained at NAFA and graduated in Western Art in 1950. From 1958 to 1962, Lim went to the Chelsea School of Art, London, to study design and printmaking. For his talent and artistic achievements, he was awarded the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest accolade for artistic excellence and contribution to the visual arts. The artist passed away in May 2021.
Low Tide is an early work by the artist that departed from the typical academic works of figures and structural compositions. Lim was an avid traveller who enjoyed the convention of painting outdoors. Here, Lim created gently curved and subtle brushstrokes that mimicked the undulated ripples of the ocean. He intentionally painted the waters in various tones of pale yellows and blues. In the bottom part of the painting, Lim added darker shades of brown. This transition of light to dark creates the visual effect of one viewing the rocks that turn visible upon the low tide. Furthermore, the depiction of the glow from the sky cascades into the water, leaving highlights on this palette of colours. Oil pigments are difficult to control, as mishandling will cause murkiness and muddiness to overcome the image. However, this work testifies to Lim’s mastery of oil pigments and his use of colours in creating an image.