Gallery honouring Cultural Medallion artists to open at The Arts House

Artist Lim Tze Peng and PM Lee Hsien Loong at the book launch and exhibition on June 15, 2021. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - A gallery celebrating Cultural Medallion artists will open in a few months' time at The Arts House, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (June 15).

The new space will "showcase their artistic excellence and contributions across various art forms, from the visual and literary arts to music, theatre and dance, that have left an indelible imprint on our cultural landscape".

The Cultural Medallion, Singapore's highest accolade for the arts, was established in 1979 by the nation's then Minister for Culture Ong Teng Cheong.

It is administered by the National Arts Council, and more than 120 artists have received it so far.

PM Lee was speaking at the launch of a book and exhibition on the life and art of centenarian painter and calligrapher Lim Tze Peng at The Arts House.

"In a few months' time, the National Arts Council will open the Cultural Medallion Gallery, right here at The Arts House. It will celebrate and honour our Cultural Medallion recipients, like Mr Lim. These cultural icons and role models we call our own will continue to inspire new generations of local artists and performers."

Mr Lim Tze Peng, who turns 100 in September, is the country's oldest living pioneer artist.

His achievements are celebrated in a new book and exhibition, both titled Soul Of Ink: Lim Tze Peng At 100.

The book by media veteran Woon Tai Ho shines a light on the man behind the art.

The exhibition features 20 recently completed ink works - ranging from abstract calligraphy to colourful ink paintings of old Singapore - and runs till June 30.

Mr Lim, the eldest of seven children, was born in 1921 to a rubber planter and a housewife. He grew up in a kampung in Pasir Ris and fell in love with calligraphy when he was a student at Chung Cheng High School.

Later, he started his career as a teacher at Xin Min School. Then, in 1981, at the age of 60, he retired as principal to become a full-time artist.

"His works were undeniably rooted in Chinese art, from the materials to the style of painting and writing. But the spirit of his art is neither Eastern nor Western. It is Singaporean," PM Lee said on Tuesday.

"Mr Lim has inspired new generations of local artists, each with their own unique styles, but all distinctively Singaporean. Piece by piece, each new artwork contributes to our collective identity, our sense of national identity and pride."

Mr Lim received the Cultural Medallion in 2003. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 2016.

Artist Lim Tze Peng in his home studio. PHOTO: TERENCE TAN

At the launch, the artist said in Mandarin: "It is a privilege to have been able to bring honour to Singapore through my art."

He hopes there will be more platforms for art exhibitions and that more talented local artists will emerge from Singapore.

"I would like to donate some of my artworks that are good or outstanding to the country, so more Singaporeans and people from other countries will be able to see these works," he added.

"Time, to me, is more precious than money. I am grateful for what I have been given and I will continue to work hard."

The exhibition, Soul Of Ink: Lim Tze Peng At 100, is open to the public at The Arts House from June 15 to 30, 11am to 6pm. Admission is free but registration is required.

To register, visit this website.

For more information on Lim Tze Peng, visit this website.

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