Brushing up for his show

The New Paper

With just three days left to the opening of his first solo exhibition, karung guni man-turned-artist Tan Chong Bin was excited about his big break.

Mr Tan, 63, told The New Paper on Tuesday that the past few weeks have been spent holing up in his three-room flat at Circuit Road - which he shares with his younger brother - to finish up the pieces meant for exhibition.

His "art studio" is a nondescript room filled with bottles of acrylic paint and art canvases, big and small.

Many of his works are driven by fluidity and spontaneity, inspired by his favourite painter, American artist Jackson Pollock.

Each art piece often starts with letting the paint flow freely on a blank canvas before his creativity takes over, filling in details according to the shapes that form.

Mr Tan gamely demonstrated this with a cup of coffee from a neighbourbood coffee shop.

He first sipped his coffee, before splashing the rest onto a piece of mahjong paper. Then, observing how the coffee flowed, Mr Tan added the finishing touches.

The result was a piece of paper dripping with various shades of brown.

"See, when this dries up, it will look very nice. You'll realise there's a huge dragon here and a fish over at the corner. This is what you call spontaneity in art," he said.

After the exhibition, Mr Tan hopes to hit the international stage, what he calls "the Olympics level of art".

"I know it won't be easy. But even if I don't get there, at least I know I have tried," he said.



We first reported on Oct 8 about how Mr Tan went from rag-and-bone man to artist through sheer determination.

A self-taught artist, he had developed his style by poring through countless art catalogues and going for all types of art exhibitions, including those meant for children.

Artcommune Gallery founder Ho Sou Ping decided to exhibit Mr Tan's paintings as he found a tinge of sadness in Mr Tan's artwork, and felt that emulating emotions through paintings is a rare trait in artists.

Thirty of Mr Tan's art pieces will be showcased at the exhibition, Voice of a Karang Guni Man, from tomorrow to Nov 1. They include his past competition pieces and part of his postage stamps painting series.

Voice of a Karang Guni Man
When: Tomorrow till Nov 1, 12pm to 7pm
Where: Artcommune Gallery, Block 231, Bain Street, Bras Basah Complex, #02-43
Admission: Free

This article was first published on October 22, 2015.
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