"REUNION" 27th Solo Exhibition by TANG Juey Lee

13 - 22 June 2014
Gallery @ The Arts House,
1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429
10am to 8pm daily
It really was quite the "Reunion" for Malaysian artist Tang Juey Lee. His solo exhibition of the same title held at the Arts House in June 2014 was the optimum backdrop for Tang to host his remarkable comeback show. His absence from Singapore's shores meant that many admirers of his work had been unable to see, til now, how much his technique and brushwork have progressed and refined over time. For the artist himself, it was a nostalgic experience to return to where he spent his crucial years during the 1980's, learning and developing his painting skills and thriving amongst the City's burgeoning artistic scene. The famed "orchid artist" had not lost his touch how to hypnotise and charm his audience with the beauty of his intricate, detailed flowers, magnificent birds and serene fish. The 2014 Causeway Exchange Festival, a cultural collaboration between Malaysia and Singapore to strengthen neighbouring relations, which hosted the event was the ideal environment for the artist to feel perfectly at ease to re-launch his career.

Throughout the Festival period, there was plenty of foot traffic with viewers and fans flocking to see Tang's rare venture out into the foray. His work from the late 1970's and 80's is still fondly remembered by several people, and many of the artist's friends, peers and classmates came to pay their respects. Various collectors arrived bearing catalogues from previous exhibitions, as well as photos of their original Tang Juey Lee paintings, and commissioned artworks from him for their children and grandchildren. It was poignant to see how Tang's paintings had reached out to such a wide range of people, as well as to witness the surge of appreciation felt for his current work by an entirely different audience in the new millenia. After a 20 year hiatus from the public eye, the event certainly was a reunion on all fronts.

The opening night of the Festival held on Thursday 12th June was a spectacle of VIP attendees. Officiated by the honourable High Commissioner of Malaysia, H.E. Dato' Husni Bin Zai Yaacob, there was also a myriad of other VIPs including: Y.B. Dato' Mahadzir Lokman, Chairman of the National Visual Arts Gallery, Malaysia; Mr. Seah Kian Peng, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Singapore; and Ms Kathy Lai, CEO of the National Arts Council, Singapore. Jada Art hosted their own private opening party the following night on Friday 13th June, which was well attended by loyal gallery supporters, friends and followers of Tang's work.

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Born in 1954 in Johor Bahru, Malaysian artist Tang Juey Lee left his hometown in 1974 to pursue his education at the prestigious Nanyang Academy of Fine Art (NAFA) in Singapore for three years. Under the esteemed tutelage of pioneer artist Mr. See Hiang To, Tang learnt about Western as well as Eastern art. With Mr See as his mentor, Tang studied a component of Chinese painting during his diploma course, which included traditional brush painting and calligraphy. This technique of fine brushwork has carried over into Tang's artistic oeuvre and is visible when appreciating the delicate nature of his watercolour paintings. Six months after graduation Tang participated in his first exhibitionan. He is a highly prolific painter, regularly exhibiting in solo and group shows all over the world. Tang returned to Johor Bahru in 1991 when he founded and became Principal of Raphael Academy of Art, Malaysia and where he taught painting until 1998. The special painting entitled "Friendship" was specially commissioned for this occasion and has significance for the artist.

The painting bears both countries' national flowers: hibiscus, or "Bunga Raya", is Malaysia's national flower and Vanda "Miss Joaquim" is the Singapore orchid.
The two species of intertwined flowers coupled with a row of perched budgerigars compliments the scene and adds liveliness to the harmony of the composition. For the artist, the painting symbolizes the long-term cordiality and prosperity of an enduring friendship between two countries where Tang spent many of his formative years.

Until Tang's return to the public eye with Jada Art in 2013, the artist hadn't exhibited since 2001 when he held a retrospective in Malaysia.

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