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Anatomy of Free Mind – Tan Swie Hian's Notebooks & Creations


Thu Dec 22 2016, 10:00am–9:00pm
Sun Apr 23 2017, 10:00am–9:00pm

Where: National Library, 100 Victoria Street, Rochor, Singapore

Restrictions: All ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free


Listed by: natashabmt

1973 was a milestone year in Tan Swie Hian’s life during which he experienced a breakthrough in his spirituality and creative capacity. Henceforth, his artistic creations have been characterised by freedom – in medium, subject matter, genre and expression. The artist likens his newfound free mind to a hummingbird that can fly in all directions and experience different realms of reality.

Now, more than 40 years later, Tan’s works are presented again at the National Library in this exhibition featuring over 100 creations in a wide range of media. This is the first time the multidisciplinary artist’s creative process, as documented in his notebooks through writings and sketches, has been featured with his artworks.

Discover the extraordinary world of a free mind through Tan Swie Hian’s creations and notebooks!

You may also visit the website for more information:

Some of the highlights of the exhibition include:

- A Couple is a painting inspired by a photograph of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Madam Kwa Geok Choo. In January 2013, a fire broke out at Telok Kurau Studios where Tan’s studio was located and where the unfinished portrait was kept. The painting was nearly ruined by the water from the fire engine. Tan finally completed the painting in 2014, which he describes as a painting that has undergone baptism of water and fire.

- The Nelson Mandela Unity Series is a work featuring six images of the hands and arms of Mr Nelson Mandela breaking free from manacles sketched by former South African president himself, which was the lithographed and painted on by Mr Tan Swie Hian. The painting was sold for HK$3.52 million (S$630,000) at an auction in Hong Kong.

- Graffitied Portrait of Charlie Chaplin is a painting that embodies the artistic experimentation often seen in Tan’s artworks. While attempting to create a graffiti-style portrait, Tan observed the distinctive traditions of Chinese ink paintings.

- White Horse and Reed Flowers is a term used in zen practice, which means surpassing the realm of being differentiated. He penned the poem “White Horse and Reed Flowers” in 2013. He also drew a sketch for the poem and expanded it into a painting with the same title in the following year.

Opening hours:

Daily, 10am to 9pm

Admission is free.