Being a part of what you paint

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This is a tribute to one of Penang’s great master painters. Tan Choon Ghee captured his home city’s scenes with ease and honoured urban landscapes throughout the world with an intense brush. He was born in Penang on January 25, 1930 and passed away at 70 on December 28, 2010.

FOR ALL HIS FAME and extraordinary skills, Tan Choon Ghee never got to be fabulously rich. Not that he minded that much, though once in 1980 he did publicly fulminate at the abject lack of art patronage.

Today, the paintings of Choon Ghee are much sought after, celebrated for the languid pearly washes of intriguing street life, quaint architectural façades and the more laidback harbourside scenes and rustic villages.

In his career which effectively started when he studied at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore in 1949–1951, Choon Ghee captured with great élan, grace and spontaneity the vagaries of places and people, congregating in ritual observances or in alfresco hawker “dining”.


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