Foo Hong Tatt's Poetry in Paint

By Eugene Quah

September 2023 FOR ART'S SAKE
main image
Mountain Streams, 1987, 88 x 118 cm, Acrylic on rice paper. This painting is a fine example of Foo’s fusion of Eastern and Western ideas and techniques. It uses rice paper and brush techniques typical in Chinese landscape paintings but uses acrylic and Western linear perspective to achieve depth. “A realistic landscape painting rendered in traditional Chinese style,” Chew Teng Beng puts in his essay, “The Paintings of Foo Hong Tatt”.
FOO HONG TATT was born on 9 April 1940, several months before World War II descended upon Malaya. He recalls hiding with his family at their estate in the hills of Sungai Ara. They also sheltered, with some peril to themselves, two journalists wanted by the Japanese authorities.Foo hails from a prominent family of landowners in Bayan Lepas who were also involved in the animal feed industry. His grandfather founded the Chung Shan Primary School at Bayan Lepas.After the war,...

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  • [1] “Pameran Lukisan-Lukisan, Encik Foo Hong Tatt, Perasmian Oleh Menteri Hal Ehwal Dalam Negeri, Kuala Lumpur; 27.6.1966”, Ref. No.: 2001/0030733W, Arkib Negara
  • [2] Alpha Gallery (1971), “Exhibitions of Alpha Gallery: collection of ephemera materials, 1971-2012. Poetry in paint by Foo Hong Tatt, Alpha Gallery”, Donated by Lim Chong Keat to the National Library Board of Singapore
  • [3] Choong Kwee Kim (1997), “Spiritual meaning in works of abstract art”, The Star. Published 18 July 1997.
  • [4] Foo Hong Tatt (1999). Interview. Conducted by Dr. Chew Teng Beng, 3 October 1999. New York, US.
  • [5] Foo Hong Tatt (2023). Interview. Conducted by Eugene Quah Ter-Neng. 5 January 2023. Tanjung Tokong, Penang
  • [6] Foo Hong Tatt (2023). Speech at St. Xavier’s Institution, 6 January 2023.
  • [7] Shu Shu Costa (1999). “Art as Worship”, The American Bahá'í, pg. 20-21. Published April 9 1999
  • [8] St. Xavier’s Institution (December 2022), “Welcome Home & Special Thanks–Foo Hong Tatt”, Commemorative book given to guests.
  • [9] Tan Chee Khuan (1990), “Penang Artists 1920-1990”
  • [10] Tan Chee Khuan (2000), “Foo Hong Tatt–Paradise Regained”
Eugene Quah

is an independent researcher and writer who is working on a book tentatively called “Illustrated Guide to the North Coast of Penang”. He rediscovered the joys of writing after moving back to Penang from abroad.