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 styles in his Chinese ink paintings.
One of Tan’s distinctive styles combines Chinese brush paintings, calligraphy and seal carving imprints. This approach is evident in the artwork Zhong Kui – The Ghostbuster. In Chinese folklore, Zhong Kui is a deity who fights ghosts and hunts demons. Tan incorporated the three Chinese art forms and knitted all the elements together to achieve a balanced composition and create an aesthetic impact on this ink painting.