Marking NS50 through art

Above: (From left) Chief of Army Melvyn Ong, Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung, Singapore Art Society president Terence Teo and artist Tan Rui Rong at the launch of the public exhibition at Ion Art Gallery yesterday. Right: Artist Kevin Tan wit
Above: (From left) Chief of Army Melvyn Ong, Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung, Singapore Art Society president Terence Teo and artist Tan Rui Rong at the launch of the public exhibition at Ion Art Gallery yesterday.ST PHOTOS: LAU FOOK KONG
Above: (From left) Chief of Army Melvyn Ong, Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung, Singapore Art Society president Terence Teo and artist Tan Rui Rong at the launch of the public exhibition at Ion Art Gallery yesterday. Right: Artist Kevin Tan wit
Artist Kevin Tan with his work Vertical Valour, an acrylic painting depicting elite Guardsmen rappelling from helicopters.ST PHOTOS: LAU FOOK KONG

Exhibitions showcase pieces by artists that pay tribute to national servicemen

While he served as a combat medic during his national service days, artist Kevin Tan, 54, had always been inspired by the grit of the elite Guards units, which undergo some of the toughest training in the army.

Last month, he channelled his admiration into an acrylic painting called Vertical Valour, showing Guardsmen rappelling from helicopters, contrasted against a blue-coloured night.

Mr Tan is one of 53 artists from the Singapore Art Society who are paying tribute to national servicemen by depicting their lives, professionalism and dedication in art as part of celebrations for 50 years of NS.

Together, they created 138 pieces of art - including oil paintings, bronze sculptures and Chinese calligraphy - to commemorate NS, which started in 1967.

Yesterday, the first of three public exhibitions showcasing 60 of the art pieces was launched at the Ion Art Gallery, with Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung officiating the opening.

Mr Ong, who is also Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills), said: "The Singapore Art Society's initiative forms an important part of our cultural heritage and preserves the social memories of our people as a legacy to be handed down from one generation to the next."

Singapore Art Society president Terence Teo said the art "aims to recognise the hardship and sacrifices made by our past and present national servicemen, even in the most mundane of everyday tasks".

As part of the initiative called "Commemorating NS50 Through Art", the society's artists visited more than 20 Singapore Armed Forces and Home Team camps between December and April to draw inspiration.

Artist Victor Ang, 50, said the bravery of national servicemen in executing their missions led him to create a Chinese calligraphy piece using the words, wu wei (fearless). Instead of a brush, Mr Ang, who was born in the year NS started, used tissue paper and ink to write the words on rice paper.

He said: "Singapore has nothing to fear because through NS, the nation is ready."

Designer Ronnie Chng, 38, who visited the exhibition yesterday, said: "It brings back memories of my time serving NS."

The Ion Art Gallery exhibition will be held till June 29 and is open from 11am to 9pm daily. It will then move to The Arts House Gallery I, from July 2 to 15 (10am to 8pm daily). The works will also be displayed at the Suntec Convention Centre Linkway 2, 3 and Concourse Area from July 30 to Aug 13 (10am to 10pm daily).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 25, 2017, with the headline 'Marking NS50 through art'. Print Edition | Subscribe