Crashing Waves, Billowing Clouds
A Tribute to Tan Kian Por
涛啸云涌 - 陈建坡遗作展

07 April 2021

石头城 City of Stones, 2013, 7 x 10.5 x 5cm

14 Apr 2021 (Wed) – 5 May 2021 (Wed), 11am to 7pm
Lim Hak Tai Gallery, NAFA Campus 1
80 Bencoolen St, Singapore 189655
Free admission, closed on Mondays & Public Holidays
Enquiries: [email protected] / 6512 6099


Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) is proud to present Crashing Waves, Billowing Clouds, an exhibition that pays tribute to the late artist Tan Kian Por, one of NAFA’s illustrious alumnus and dedicated teacher. An accomplished calligrapher, ink painter and seal carver respected by his peers for his leadership and creative vision, Tan passed away in 2019 at 70 years of age. Curated by the Estate of Tan Kian Por, the exhibition showcases over 70 of his best seal carvings, Chinese calligraphy and ink works created between 1985 to 2016. A commemorative book by the same title accompanies the exhibition, comprising memorable anecdotes, essays and photos contributed by his family, close associates and students.

Tan Kian Por was born in China and moved to Singapore in 1962. He graduated from NAFA in 1970, having studied both Western Painting and Chinese brush painting under the mentorship of the late See Hiang To and Chen Chong Swee. A dedicated and well-loved teacher, Tan taught at the academy between 1980 and 2014. In addition to his full-time work as a lecturer, he was prolific in his artmaking and was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 2001 for his contribution to the development of Chinese art and his unwavering dedication to arts education in Singapore.

Having established himself as master calligrapher, ink painter and seal carver, it was important to Tan that artists reflect on their environment and be genuine and bold to experiment while innovating within tradition. This is evinced through his works such as a portrait of an ethnic man暮影残年 Waning Years (Chinese ink and colour, 1985), as well as his meticulous mastery of traditional script and seal carving in  汉三公山碑集联 Han Dynasty, San Gong Shan Stele (Chinese ink, 2014) and悬解  Enlightened (昌化红纹石 Changhua Hongwenshi, 2009). In his later years, Tan created a series of semi-abstract works in bold red, blue and black hues, 水月相忘 Forgetting Each Other, the Moon and Water (Chinese ink and colour on paper, 2014), reflecting his philosophical approach and unusual compositions that challenged viewers’ imagination while respecting traditional principles.

Tan also founded the Siaw-Tao Chinese Seal-Carving Calligraphy & Painting Society in 1971 with a few like-minded friends. The Society that would become synonymous with his name as he served as its President for more than three decades, was his lifelong endeavour that offered a platform for artists to deepen their understanding, knowledge of Chinese art and where practitioners gathered regularly to exchange ideas.

Tan was internationally recognised by Chinese ink and seal carving circles in China and Korea. His long list of accomplishments include being the first Singaporean to be appointed as an overseas honorary member of the Xi Leng Seal Carving & Painting Society of Hangzhou, China; being appointed as Researcher of China Academy of The Art; recognised as an esteemed member of the Calligrapher Association and decorated as a Permanent Honorary member of the Korean Seal Carving Society.

Oscar Ng, Head of NAFA’s Alumni Relations Office said, “Mr Tan was an exceptional lecturer, who succeeded in creating a positive learning environment that inspired people from all walks of life to learn and appreciate traditional Chinese artforms. Alumni who attended his lessons often spoke fondly of his scholarly demeanour. These works are milestone creations by Mr Tan, closely knitted with the academy’s ethos of resilience, creative and excellence. Audiences will have the rare opportunity to view pieces that have never been exhibited before.”

Waves upon waves, building and crashing, like clouds upon clouds, billowing and flowing — such is Tan Kian Por’s love for art — unceasing, driven and strong. Crashing Waves, Billowing Clouds not only reflects how NAFA provides a strong foundation for the pursuit of art education and practice, but also highlights the academy’s broad-based values of creativity, spirit of adventure and resilience. This exhibition looks to inspire art aspirants and celebrates the brilliance of NAFA’s eminent artists.

ANNEX 1 – Images of Selected Works
ANNEX 2 – Artist Biography
ANNEX 3 – Background Information