Calendar: Faces of Singapore
Source: Sharifah Arfah of New Straits Times, Malaysia

Jan 28 2006

The faces of a nationís diverse inhabitants can tell many stories, and leading Singapore contemporary artist Tang Da Wu explores the theme through his collection of works entitled Tang Da Wu: Heroes, Islanders.

The collection also marks Valentine Willie Fine Artís opening exhibition for this year.

Born in 1943, Tang received his diploma in youth and community works at Singaporeís National Youth Leadership Institute in 1968.

His first arts-related qualification was the bachelorís degree in sculpture from Birmingham Polytechnic, School of Fine Arts, in Britain.

Since returning to Singapore with a doctorate from Londonís Goldsmiths College in 1988, Tang has invigorated the regional art scene with his art performances and installations.

Many of his works reflect themes of social and environmental issues. Tang is also known for founding Singaporeís Artists Village and was awarded the Arts and Culture Prize at the 10th Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 1999.

Tang Da Wu: Heroes, Islanders is a major new series featuring Chinese ink on paper. The series, a project by Tang since 2003, is an impression of islanders who inspire him.

To Tang, heroes and stories are found in the faces of the anonymous. They include old women who collect scrap cardboard and metal, and save money for their grandchildrenís future, young people hanging out, hawkers and peddlers in corners of the island, forgotten or changed beyond recognition.

The dark, sometimes brutish, often humorous pictures challenge viewers to find in these people something beyond the idealised and the stereotypical. The contrasting and layered ink washes give depth and reality to his characters, while strongly caricaturised features add power and pathos. Mixed with these portraits of the unknown and ordinary urban heroes are also pictures of powerful people in the Singapore arts scene.

The encounter between such individualistic personalities with the idiosyncratic style of an artist such as Tang results in paintings full of surprising forms and mysterious signs. Tang gives us contemporary stories from a Singapore few see from the outside, immortalising a moment in these islandersí history.

Tang Da Wu: Heroes, Islanders will be on display at Valentine Willie Fine Art (first Floor No. 17, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur) from Feb 9-Feb 25. Noon-8pm (Monday-Friday) and noon-6pm (Saturday). Admission is free. For more information, call 03-2284-2348.