Encounters: Poon Lian, 50 years of art
方良缘艺五十

02 January 2015

8 - 25 January 2015, 11am - 7pm

NAFA Galleries 1 & 2, NAFA Campus 1 (80 Bencoolen St)
Free admission. Closed on Mondays.

Exhibition Opening: Wednesday, 7 January 2015, 6pm
Guest of Honour: Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth

Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) is pleased to present ‘Encounters: Poon Lian, 50 years of art’ from 8 to 25 January 2015 at NAFA Galleries 1 & 2, the NAFA alumnus’ fourth solo exhibition in eight years. The exhibition opening will be officiated by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth. Equally adept at both oil painting and Chinese ink, a body of over 80 artworks traces the artist’s journey from his early years at NAFA to recent documentations of everyday life and his sojourns around Asia.

67-year-old Poon Lian is a born and bred Singaporean. He was first introduced to art by pioneer artist Chen Wen Hsi, who was then teaching at Chinese High School. He then enrolled in NAFA and graduated with a Diploma in Western Painting in 1969. During his time at NAFA, he also continued his private lessons in Chinese ink painting under Chen. He did not pursue his artistic career full-time after graduation, but took on various visual arts related careers first in Nanyang Siang Pau and then in printing companies. He also lectured at NAFA between 1972 and 1981, during the academy’s tumultuous times when numerous alumni returned to their alma mater to help sustain the academy’s promotion of fine art in Singapore. He retired from the corporate world in 2003 to immerse himself in his artistic endeavours and his relentless efforts have been demonstrated through four solo exhibitions and 12 group shows since 2001.

Poon Lian’s passion for fine art was sustained through a continual practice in his free time, focusing first on Chinese ink and colour in the early years and then delving into the Western tradition of oils in the new millennium. His artistic journey is reflected in this retrospective that showcases foundation sketches from the 1960s, explorations in Chinese ink from the 1970s to 1990s and many recent oil paintings. The repertoire is wide ranging, varying from academic genres such as portraits and still-lifes to landscapes and everyday life. Influenced by his teachers at NAFA and like many of his peers, Poon Lian enjoys sojourns around the region such as Malaysia, Bali, Thailand and Cambodia and further abroad to Nepal, Taiwan and China, capturing the scenes and imbibing the daily rhythms of life in his paintings. His subjects are not mere photographic depictions but are canvases for exploration and experimentation in composition, brushwork and colours while displaying his technical capabilities honed from years of practice. Poon Lian’s artworks are a consolidation of his training in both Chinese and Western art as he dips into the traditions of both to find his choice rendering for illustrating his observations and experiences.

Dr Bridget Tracy Tan, Director of Institute of Southeast Asian Arts and Art Galleries at NAFA concluded in her exhibition essay, “Poon Lian is able, after 50 years, to bring his mind to the place of peaceful reflection, while still pursuing a deeper perception of the colour experiences he has enjoyed and continues to enjoy, on his many sojourns and in his studio as he practices his painting. His works cannot be defined by a single masterful style or stroke; or a blend that successfully marks a unique signature to call his own. Yet he is the sum of all his paintings, black, white, colour, light and dark, ink or oil. At heart he is the true Nanyang painter seeking his fortunes of the old times. Making paintings that speak to the natives as much as his generation and those closer in his community. Nanyang is not the style of painting, but the experience that has evolved, close to a hundred years since the modern migrations of Chinese artists into this region. As an artist, Poon Lian steps side by side along this path, that threads the brilliant tapestry of who we are in this region.“

Beyond his artistic practice, Poon Lian plays an active role in promoting fine art in Singapore through various memberships and leadership positions in his alma mater, clubs and associations, including a long running role as Director of Nanyang Fine Arts Foundation, the holding company of the academy, from 1993 to 2008. He was a member of The Society of Chinese Artists from 1994 to 2010, and was elected President for three years. He has also taken on positions as assistant treasurer and secretary in Club NAFA since 2005, assisting in the club’s mandate to promote artistic dialogue amongst the alumni, staff and friends of NAFA.

Annex 1  - Images of selected artwork
Annex 2  - Artist’s biography
Annex 3  - Exhibition Essay

Gallery

Life in Bali

2012, Oil on canvas, 63cm x 48.5cm

Sunshine after the Rain

1998, Chinese ink and colour on paper, 122cm x 84cm

Still Life II

2014, Oil on canvas 50cm x 65cm

Portrait of a Sikh

1969, Oil on canvas 61.3cm x 43.2cm

A Spring Outing (Oracle Bone Script)

2002, Oil on canvas, 98.9 cm x 78.8 cm