VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Portrait of Lu Xun
2002-00411
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Portrait of Lu Xun is a startling likeness of the great Chinese writer, often regarded as the father of modern writing in China. It is rendered in swift and fiery brush strokes, not unlike Lu’s forceful personality. These rapid brush strokes are the result of Tan’s many years of practice. This technique called “lightning creating method” produces “never-before-seen brush strokes of sky-rocking drunkenness. The possession of such speed and precision is liberation into a trance-like state of mind and liberation is an explosive cosmic dance. By going so speedily, the painter makes visible the hitherto latent and undiscovered power of the brush, ink and colours, which in the spiritual part of the painter’s being, he shares with the Divine Ground.”

History of the Object
Tan Swie Hian is a man of many interests. He wrote his first book at the age of 25 and his love of literature has remained strong through the years. Apart from original works and translations, his literary talents have also branched into calligraphy and portraits of literary giants such as Shakespeare and Lu Xun (1881-1936). Explaining why he is at home, moving fluidly between disciplines, “it is sheer joy for Proteus to be where he would like to be at one time and thereafter, changes his whereabouts for the next time. The free mind as reflected in the use of medium, is a choice which is naturally multiple. Being multi-disciplinary is just its manifestation… This mutual nourishing between artistic products of different media helps artists to leap forward and after many a cycle of artistic reincarnations, the artist will eventually be able to liberate himself from the obsession with his own genre and become a hummingbird.”

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Ink on rice paper 
Measurements
H: 136.8 x W: 63.8 cm 
Creator name
Tan Swie Hian 
Creator date
1943 
Where it was made
Singapore 
Geography
Singapore 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; 1993 
Function
Art Work 
Acquisition
The painting was acquired from SooBin Art Gallery Pte Ltd, on 15th July 2002 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Singapore Art Museum 
Museum
Singapore Art Museum 
Credit line
 

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