3. Good Relationship
6. In Between Real and Abstract
7. Not Just a Grand Dinner
9. Cooking Curry
About the Artist: Tan Gaik Hoon
Tan Gaik Hoon is one of our favourite artists, and she is well-known among expats and locals alike for her attention to detail, as well as stunning ability to transfer to canvas with her expertise use of acrylic paints, layers of spectacular combinations of colours and textures. Furthermore, her work shows a peek into everyday moments from historical Malaysia, which on the surface may seem simple, but has a background of deep and rich heritage.
Previously, her work typically showcased depictions of Malay women in rural village-style settings. Feeling the need to challenge herself and try her hand at something new, she embarked on a new direction. Her latest collection is inspired by her mother, a Nyonya (Straits Chinese) kuih-maker. Kuih is the Malay word for local desserts or snacks. Nyonya kuih are works of art themselves, traditionally made using moulds, requiring careful hands and proper techniques in order to turn out successfully. Various types of these kuih and other Nyonya delights are depicted in Tan’s work, especially the Huat Kuih and Ang Koo Kuih, which symbolises longevity and prosperity, themes which she feels strongly about.
Tan’s paintings bring to mind a nostalgic feel, depicting scenes of family and friendship set in yesteryear. It is reminiscent of a time where life was simpler, where friends chatted over cups of tea and delicious kuih. They also call to mind the joyful feeling of returning home to meet loved ones and family members during festive occasions. Many of her paintings bring to life an intimate scene of which two people are engaged in a conversation, leading the viewer to feel they have stumbled upon a moment frozen in time. There are also other traditional Nyonya elements such as oil lamps, vases, and costumes in the paintings.
Tan says, “I love the Nyonya heritage and I am often inspired by it, as you can see from my work. I look through old cookbooks and cultural history books from the Nyonya era to get a feel of the kuih and use them as my guidelines when painting. Sometimes, it takes me a few months to get the colours, shapes, and details just right.” Her hard work has clearly paid off with her marvellous new collection, and she will be showing them at her first solo exhibition very soon.
She tells us, “My paintings have stories behind them. Before I start a painting, I think about what I want it to depict, and what kind of story I want it to tell.
If you look carefully, you will see there are certain elements which can mean different things. I use surrealism in some aspects of my work, to leave it open to interpretation.”
For more information about the artist and her paintings, please contact 03-20949664 or [email protected].
Source: The Expat magazine July 2015
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