Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tribute - A Solo Watercolour Exhibition by Tew Nai Tong (1936-2013)

Tew, Nai Tong: Tribute (16 June 2014 – 28 June 2014)

PINKGUY Gallery is holding a posthumous exhibition of works by Tew Nai Tong, who passed away on the 5th of May 2013. This show held in tribute to the late artist will feature a total of 40 watercolour paintings that range in size from small to large; while also showing a complete range of works that span his whole lifetime. Viewers will be treated to some of his earliest paintings in watercolour, even 2 of his Chinese ink paintings on rice paper, all the way up to his quite recent creations and there is one special painting to be shown - an unfinished oil painting of Nai Tong’s that is unsigned, as he passed before its completion. All these paintings are from his widow’s collection, a true tribute to Malaysia’s last great Nan yang style artist who won many awards for his watercolour works in his lifetime, an exhibition that demonstrates his distinctive style, skill and passion for the arts.

Tribute is partly WinSon Loh’s fulfillment of a promise made to Tew Nai Tong in 2013. WinSon had told Nai Tong that if Glories received a good response, PINKGUY would hold a second exhibition for him and Tribute is the first exhibition of Nai Tong’s work after his demise. It is notable that before and even after Nai Tong’s passing, his works have been featured often in Malaysian auctions. This exhibition is a first for PINKGUY where paintings will not have a custom frame made, and every painting will be shown in their old frames. This is intentional to highlight the age of some of Nai Tong’s earliest works. It is also because due to PINKGUY’s popularity and the consequent long waiting list for customers, there is no time for them to create customized framing for these works. Some of Nai Tong’s sketches will have a PINKGUY frame however, to make them easier to hang for display. Nevertheless, PINKGUY is confident that any collectors of these old pieces will have it preserved.

During Nai Tong’s early years, he became a part of the watercolour movement in Malaysia, promoting this art style and focusing on landscape. Being part of this movement, as well all his other lifetime achievements have cemented him as one of the most important artists from the South East Asian region. The works in Tribute show Nai Tong’s strong connection with the Malayan landscape and his early works hint at his future works that extoll the virtues of a serene and simple way of living. They are calm and composed, radiating a distinct beauty and tranquility that to Nai Tong, is part and parcel of the old Malaya and its way of life. There is a feeling of freedom in all his pieces through distinctive play with composition, and trademark strokes. In some, a picture is made from minimal yet expressive strokes, while in others one could is struck be the detail and accuracy of Nai Tong’s depiction.

Some of the works in the exhibit are his sketches that led to some of his masterpieces and is one aspect of the show that really allows one to experience Nai Tong’s process and appreciate his artistry as even these simple sketches display his unique abilities to depict figure and the themes that were close to his heart. Whether it is an ambient landscape, full of tonal gradations, or a vase of flowers, or even Chinese Ink paintings, viewers can see how multi-talented Nai Tong was, as well as his mastery in creating imagery out of everyday scenes that speak with meaning and emotion. It exhibits his capability of taking what may be considered ordinary, and transforming them into significant objects for observation. Tribute will display Nai Tong’s character, his interests and mode of working, as well as reinforcing the notable abilities of the late artist.

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