TEW NAI TONG
B. Selangor, 1936-2013
She Likes Flowers, 2010
Signed “NAI TONG” on lower left
Oil on canvas
91 x 91 cm
Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur
Illustrated on page 19 of “A Golden Era TEW NAI TONG” exhibition catalogue
Published in 2012 by KL Lifestyle Art Space
Tew Nai Tong’s significant “squinty eyes” expressions on his subjects in all his artworks depict the importance of having a good family relationship that creates peaceful and harmonious environment. It is said that his interpretation of the squinty eyes see the importance of working hard without grievance and living life to the fullest with love and happiness. This also brings about a mood that is serene, joyous and all about contentment. Here the woman sits beside a vase filled with flowers, and as the title suggests, she is pleased by it and sits with a content look on her face – and the emotion is palpable that the viewer can absolutely relate to the mood of the painting.
Tew Nai Tong, most renowned for being a distinctive figurative artist, was born in his hometown in Klang in 1936. He attended the Peng Hwa Chinese School when he was seven years old. He was 18 when he chose to pursue the path of his dream of becoming an artist. He went to Singapore and attended the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) for two years and graduated in 1958 at the age of 22. During his early stage at NAFA while focusing on sketching ,watercolour and landscape painting, Nai Tong with the rest of his contemporaries, became part of the watercolour movement of Malaysia.
He attended Ecole Nationale Superieure Des Beaux-Arts de Paris for 2 years, where he obtained the skills to paint using oil colour, enabling him to establish a solid foundation for his future advancement. The combination stems from his time in Singapore and Paris, with his art being described as representing the tail-end of the old Nanyang (the Southern Seas of China) style as well as embodying the spirit of the new Nanyang style, a combination of stylised Balinese-Sarawakian figure types, the School of Paris chic and Chinese painting traditions.
The amount of research that he always puts in for his art is exemplary. He visited Bali from 1996 to 2006, while also making a return to Paris from 1999 to 2002 in order to conduct research for his artworks as well as to look for inspiration, visits that have also played a part in molding his unique style.