Tree Spirit/森灵: Visions of the Arboreal by Lim Tze Peng
11 March to 19 March 2023
Not Gallery is pleased to present Tree Spirit / 森灵: Visions of the Arboreal by Lim Tze Peng, an exhibition of Cultural Medallion-winning artist Lim Tze Peng’s dynamic Chinese ink paintings, inspired by the primal majesty of the banyan tree.
This acclaimed centenarian artist is best known for his street scenes of old-world Singapore and abstracted calligraphic masterpieces, called muddled calligraphy or hutuzi. Tree Spirit / 森灵 veers off the beaten path to present a lesser-shown, though no less important, body of work of his that were created between 2006 and 2008.
Large in scale and unrestrained in brushwork, this series of paintings marks how the artist embraces serendipity and new creative processes, to produce formidable gestural impressions of the arboreal. Lim’s sweeping, tangled brushstrokes and torrential drips and splatters result in intense mindscapes that reflect a primordial wilderness emanating with power. As the artist muses, “You could say that my trees are visual poems of chaos.”
The Tree Spirit / 森灵 paintings are also notable for how they reveal a crucial turning point in the artist’s practice. It is in these works when he started to experiment with contemporary strategies such as cropping, collaborating with chance, and tilting the picture plane. They mark the moment in Lim’s practice in which he begun to bridge Chinese painting traditions with artistic strategies often regarded as Western in outlook.
These modern strategies, along with the energetic lyricism of his brushwork, result in paintings that not only capture the spirit of the forest, but also the experimental and contemporary spirit of this esteemed local artist.
Singaporean artist Lim Tze Peng (b.1921) is renowned for this Chinese ink landscapes of post-independence Singapore, as well as his longstanding practice of Chinese calligraphy. He began his professional art career late in life after retiring from decades as a school principal in 1981. He was conferred the Cultural Medallion in 2003, Singapore’s highest arts accolade for artistic excellence and contribution to the local arts and culture.
In 2009, Lim became the first Singaporean to exhibit in China with the joint support of Singapore Art Museum, the National Art Museum, Beijing, and the Liu Haisu Museum, Shanghai.
Lim has also presented works in numerous exhibitions, including Infinite Gestures – Recent Paintings by Lim Tze Peng, a solo exhibition at STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery (2006). His works are collected by prominent Singapore institutions, and feature in notable private collections.
Exhibition venue: Gallery II, The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Ln, Singapore 179429
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