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.
Here, a willow tree takes centre stage in the painting’s composition, where the willow leaves are made with spontaneous sweeping brush strokes. Beyond the tree, Tan employed small and thin lines to create the intimation of birds flying in a whirling pattern and delicate marks to evoke the image of a boat, suggesting spatial recession. Tan enhanced the complexity of depth in this work by also using dry circular strokes to indicate the moon in the far distance. Undoubtedly, Willow is an exquisite artwork that reflects Tan’s graceful handling of form.