Tan Swie Hian is the top-grossing living artist in Southeast Asia. Since his first exhibition in 1973 in Singapore, he has been spectacularly prolific, and his artistic accomplishments have been nothing short of Olympian. His works have extended to multiple mediums, genres, languages and subject matter. The quadrilingual artist has had published 58 works of poetry, prose, stories, songs, criticism, translations, and artworks. Time magazine calls him Singapore’s ‘Renaissance Man’. The multi-disciplinary Tan has created artworks in mediums as varied as oil and acrylic, ink, calligraphy, photography, print-making, sculpture, seal-carving, ceramics, cartogravure, song-writing, costume and stage design, public art, performance art, and land art. He has held 23 solo shows worldwide, and won 29 accolades nationally and internationally.
In his 2016 exhibition with the National Library Board, Singapore (NLB), the paradoxical and sometimes controversial artist offers a gift to his detractors and supporters alike – an insight into his mind. Tan’s notebooks take center stage in the exhibition. The collection, never before seen by outsiders, illustrates his deliberations, quotes, discoveries, drawings, and sketches that preceded his artistic creations. The notebooks and creations unveil his openness and his way of accessing multiple realities.
A former journalist and foreign correspondent based in Singapore, Thailand and China, Yap Su-Yin covered current affairs news, features, as well as the arts and culture. She holds a Masters in Mass Communications from the University of Leicester and is a Licentiate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the UK. She has written features on Tan Swie Hian for newspapers such as the South China Morning Post and the International New York Times.
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