Malaysian Artist Profile: Tan Gaik Hoon

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Tan Gaik Hoon, a graduate of KL College of Art with a Diploma in Fine Art, has been one of my favourite artists ever since I moved to Malaysia in 1998. It is her ability to paint while her subjects are supposedly in motion that is indicative of her talent. But what strikes me the most about her paintings, and most likely you too, is the richly layered and textured stories she manages to tell through her artful and sophisticated use of acrylics while threading throughout each painting some really spectacular colours.

Gaik Hoon’s attention to detail is exceedingly intricate and she will frequently “hide” small objects in her paintings like kittens or birds. Her paintings are a superbly genuine visual feast andgive the appearance of movement even though stationary, just hanging on a wall. The more you look at her work the more you notice you are conjuring up sweet nostalgic whiffs of yesteryear. And you can certainly see and appreciate the depth and level of skill involved as well as the complete command the artist has over her original and highly structured compositions.

Gaik Hoon loves to go into the rural kampungs to observe the interaction of the women, her usual subjects, and how they work, play, and care for their families. It is a simple, rustic life that is full of richly lush beauty and Gaik Hoon displays the ability to highlight the essence of the historic Nyonya and their unique lifestyle. Her mastery of her craft is obvious. Her uncanny ability to capture people in mid-motion or as they speak among themselves results in viewers feeling as if they are almost part of the paintings and participating, too.

Gaik Hoon is collected in several countries such as Australia, France, Holland, USA, Singapore, and Sweden and, of course, Malaysia. The value of her paintings continues to rise since her graduation in 1991, so besides being transplanted to another time and place, you can also enjoy the excellent art investment you have made.

“The Straits Chinese (cultural history) books inspired me whenever I saw the photos of antique ‘Nyonyawares’, decorated porcelain, condiment bowls. .e decorative antique oil lamp appears in my paintings. (I used it when I was a small child.) .is made me think about the memory of the past when I was still living with my parents and siblings. I came to be fascinated by the Nyonas and the rich history and unique heritage that they hold here in Malaysia I most admire impressionism, their colours which are blazingly brilliant and vivid.”

If you are an expat soon to leave Malaysia, these paintings evoke and encapsulate a genuine Malaysian snapshot of a culture integral to history of the country and can serve as a wonderful tangible memory of the time you have spent here. She has generously agreed to put very low prices on them to make them more affordable to most expats.

If you are interested in viewing any of these paintings for purchase, please email me at [email protected].

Collections in many countries such as Australia, France, Holland, United States, Singapore, Sweden, and Malaysia

* Member of Malaysian Watercolour Organization (MWS)


* Life Member of National Art Gallery


To see more pictures and articles about Artist Profiles visit expatgomalaysia.com/artists

Source: The Expat August 2013

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