What does 望(wàng) bring to mind for you?
望(wàng) could mean to observe or gaze into the distance. In this exhibition, we are invited to explore artworks from an artist’s perspective in his creative process.
From 绝望(jué wàng) to 希望(xī wàng) – despair to hope; 失望(shī wàng) to 愿望(yuàn wàng) – disappointment to wish, his artworks deeply reflect his personal journey in loss, grief and hope.
Mr. Tan Meng How is a 78-year-old self-taught artist with no formal training. Since young, he is passionate about drawing and honed his craft through observation and feedback. Growing up, his love and talent for arts was recognised by his school teachers and was hired as a designer in his elder brother’s textile company. During his lunch-time, he would often visit museums and sketch on scrap materials whenever he can.
Mr. Tan uses simple materials like markers, pens and water-colour to create intricate and detailed artworks. He usually sketches on any paper around him which he can get his hands on. For instance, on the back of envelopes, post-it-pad, leaflets, newspaper etc. These vibrant and striking artworks with intricate strokes are created mostly from coloured markers, while drawing on his lap and seated in his living room chair.
When creating an artwork, Mr. Tan immerses himself in imagination, allowing the visual image to take shape intuitively, and pieces different components to form an entire image. As someone who appreciates the tranquility of nature, his artwork inspiration mainly comes from bamboo, pine tree, plum blossom and scenery.
Mr. Tan was the sole primary care giver to his beloved wife, Mdm Lee Geok Lian from the time she was diagnosed with cancer in 2019. He remained devoted in her care needs, ensured her comfort, and bought food for her daily from home to hospital daily, amidst his own health challenges as a senior.
Given his life-stage and having no children, when his wife passed away in 2020, he was left grief-stricken, recounting the first time he entered his flat without her around after 40 years of marriage. He described this as the darkest period of his life.
Before his wife’s passing, Mr. Tan was referred to Grief Matters. In the span of 2 years receiving grief counselling and art therapy sessions during home visits. Mr. Tan was encouraged during grief counselling to tap on his talent in art-making to find meaning and solace, giving him a sense of purpose and motivation in memoriam of his late wife, Mdm Lee Geok Lian.
望(wàng) is an art exhibition that culminates & reflects Mr. Tan’s inner resilience and hope experienced during his grief journey which he wishes to share with others.