Modern Chinese ink painter to show works

Modern Chinese ink painter Lee Teck Suan will be back to show his latest works in June, about 20 years after he left the Singapore art scene to work overseas.

It will be the fourth stop of his seven-city travelling exhibition, Beyond Babel, which is beginning at Alisan Fine Arts Gallery in Hong Kong on Saturday.

Former Singapore foreign minister George Yeo, now chairman of Hong Kong-based Kerry Logistics, will open the exhibition showing 12 works in Chinese ink and acrylic paint.

Lee, 62, a Singaporean who left home in 1995 to work as a consultant in the shipping and logistics industries in Hong Kong and China, says the show will move to Shanghai next month and to Jinan in Shandong province in May before coming to Singapore.

After Singapore, it will move to Beijing, ending in Xiamen and Guangzhou by December, says the former PSA Corp senior officer.

Modern Chinese ink painter Lee Teck Suan working at his studio in Zhejiang, China. PHOTO: LEE TECK SUAN

"I have spoken to SooBin Art Gallery, which is planning to stage my show in Singapore sometime in June, but the actual dates have not been confirmed," he says.

Better known as Li Dezhuang, the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) graduate and runner-up of the UOB Painting of the Year Award in 1984 says he has not stopped painting since leaving Singapore.

His works were exhibited in New York from as early as 1989 and, over the past four decades, in many other cities around the world.

His interest in art began when he was a pupil. The son of a seaman, who grew up in Upper Thomson, went into modern art soon after graduating from Nafa in 1970. He was taught by several firstgeneration Singapore artists, including the late Georgette Chen.

"My secondary school art teacher at Chung Cheng High School, the late Yeo Hwee Bin, was a great influence too, especially with his modern sculptures," adds the divorcee who has two childrenin their 30s.

The title of his exhibition, Beyond Babel, he says, comes from Chinese art critic and historian Pan Yaochang who, in his 2004 book on contemporary Chinese masters such as Lin Fengmian, included him as an important overseas Chinese abstract art painter.

Professor Pan described Lee's works as "beyond Babel", a reference to the Bible's Tower of Babel, to show his effective use of an abstract language in art to express his abundant energy and feelings.

It inspired Lee to create his 2009 series of works, titled Three Representing Jing (well), Shan (mountain), Tian (farmland), in which he uses a circle, triangle and square to represent the three.

Three works from the series, painted in Chinese ink and acrylic, are among the highlights of his show.

"I stage the travelling show this time mainly to show this new series of my works," he adds.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2016, with the headline 'Modern Chinese ink painter to show works'. Print Edition | Subscribe