Rarely seen Anthony Poon works go on show at gallery

Anthony Poon's family - (from far left) daughter Poon Siew-Win, nine-year-old grand-daughter Emma Lim and wife Tan Lee Lee - in front of an untitled acrylic on canvas painting that is part of the artist's Kite series.
Anthony Poon's family - (from far left) daughter Poon Siew-Win, nine-year-old grand-daughter Emma Lim and wife Tan Lee Lee - in front of an untitled acrylic on canvas painting that is part of the artist's Kite series.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

His family holds exhibition of rarely seen paintings to mark his 10th death anniversary

Twelve vivid paintings by the late Singapore artist Anthony Poon are temporarily missing from two art-filled apartments in Singapore. The houses are where the artist's wife and his only child reside.

Mother and daughter had moved the paintings out of their homes and into the Sundaram Tagore Gallery in Gillman Barracks for an exhibition.

The show marks the 10th death anniversary of the artist and the more than 20 works on display, including pieces from other private collections, aim to offer an overview of the Cultural Medallion recipient's practice of painting.

Poon, who died in 2006 at the age of 61 from lung cancer, was a leading figure of Singapore's modern art scene.

He contributed to the development of abstract art and optical art here. He is also well known for his large-scale sculptures found in places such as in front of the St Regis Singapore hotel in Tanglin Road.

His daughter, Siew-Win, 47, an educational psychologist, says: "We felt the 10th death anniversary of my father was a good time to bring out his pieces and share them with everyone because this was his life and passion."

  • VIEW IT / TRANSFORMATION AND COLOUR: ANTHONY POON, PIONEER OF SINGAPORE ABSTRACTION

  • WHERE: Sundaram Tagore Gallery, 5 Lock Road, 01-05

    WHEN: Till July 10, 11am to 7pm (Tuesday to Saturday), 11am to 6pm (Sunday), closed on Monday

    ADMISSION: Free

    INFO: A film screening and talk will be held in conjunction with the show. Go to www.sundaramtagore.com/events for details

The family had earlier this year partnered The Private Museum in Waterloo Street to hold an exhibition of the small-scale preliminary models he made of his works. Before that, the last show dedicated to him was held in 2009. The retrospective exhibition was organised by the National Gallery Singapore.

This show highlights works from three key series of paintings by him. The Kite series, his first major body of paintings, draws inspiration from the motif of traditional Malay kites. It was begun in London when he was a student at the Byam Shaw School of Art from 1968 to 1971. The school became part of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2003.

The Wave series came later and it went on to define his career. The paintings feature curvilinear forms in various hues that create the illusion of movement on a two- dimensional canvas.

His relief painting series from the 1980s built on the motif of his Wave series, and he made them by stretching canvases over curved aluminium structures to create three-dimensional paintings.

To realise this show, which features paintings rarely seen in public, the gallery, with the help of the artist's family, spent almost a year tracking down works in other private collections, including those overseas.

For Madam Tan Lee Lee, 70, seeing her husband's paintings brought together from different homes and collections for this show has been a "sentimental" experience and she is particularly heartened when she finds them in "good homes".

She says: "One of the paintings that went to Australia is so fantastically preserved, it looks like it is new."

Many of the paintings in the show are not for sale, but the gallery's director Sundaram Tagore, 54, says it is nonetheless important for it to mount a show with "historic value, such as this one" and "educate collectors about an important artist's body of work".

The response from the public and art lovers towards the exhibition, which opened on May 27, has been encouraging, says Ms Poon.

"With the interest in my dad's work, we know that his legacy will carry on," she says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2016, with the headline 'Artist Poon's works on display'. Print Edition | Subscribe