The artistic journey of Fan Chang Tien is one that exemplifies passion and dedication to the tradition of Chinese painting. Known as a master of Chinese ink painting and one of Singapore’s most influential pioneer artists, Fan has inspired many arts practitioners and arts-lovers and set new directions for the art form.
Fan was the paragon of a literati artist. Hailing from the Shanghai School of Xieyi painting, he arrived in Singapore from China in the 1950s and set up The Pure Orchid Studio at Balestier Road, teaching Chinese ink painting to young Singaporeans for free.
Fan’s works often depicted bamboo and orchids, as an expression of the values he embodied. The bamboo represents the quality of resilience, and the orchid signifies refinement and goodness. The National Arts Council (NAC) wishes to celebrate these values and is appreciative that his works will be celebrated for the first time in his birth country in this major exhibition in Beijing. Indeed, this much-anticipated exhibition Fan Chang Tien: Homecoming of a Heritage is testimony to the enduring nature of Fan’s practice and will further develop new appreciation of his art in Singapore and internationally.
Beyond the tradition of Chinese-ink painting, Fan also imparted the core values of Chinese culture to his students, and encouraged them to follow their passion. Among his students was foremost Singaporean artist Chua Ek Kay, known for his fresh style and innovation that uniquely expressed Singapore’s national culture and artistic voice. Till today, Fan continues to inspire budding and established artists at home and abroad.
With Fan’s long standing ties to both China and Singapore, this exhibition in Beijing is also a timely reminder of the warm cultural relations between Singapore and China. In 2018, as part of the Joint Cooperation Bilateral Meetings with China, NAC and the China National Arts Fund signed a Memorandum of Understanding, signalling a commitment to work together in the areas of artistic collaborations, capability and skills development and bilateral exchanges. We hope such exchanges will strengthen the ties and enhance the friendship between the two countries.
I would like to congratulate the China International Cultural Exchange Centre and Singapore China Friendship Association for organising this inaugural exhibition of Fan’s works, making it possible for more to appreciate the legacy left behind by one of Singapore’s most respected ink painters.