Born in Indonesia, 1937
I was furthering my studies in US at the Art Students League of New York (1962-1966). Then, the modern art was growing and I visited many contemporary galleries and museums. When I returned to Singapore (1967), modern art was not well known. However, the Modern Art Society (formed in 1960s) and many activities which were growing, began to shape Singapore’s modern art. Now, we have artists whose works are shown in exhibitions and have interested many arts’ fans. I cannot help but praise the achievement of these members who have contributed towards the development of modern art in Singapore.
Beng Kwan received education at the Chinese High School and was tutored art by artist Chen Wen Hsi and Cheong Soo Pieng. He travelled to America to study at the Art Students League of New York for oil painting under Sidney Gross, before leaving representational painting behind for Abstract Expressionism in 1962 and met Leo Manso and Victor Candell during the Provincetown Workshop in Massachusetts in 1964. By then he began to create abstract painting-collages by integrating Chinese artistic principles with Chinese calligraphic strokes.
He has held his first solo exhibition at the Ruth Sherman Gallery and another major solo exhibition in San Diego in 1965, and many solo exhibitions after returned to Singapore in 1966, but the first show was at the National Library.
During his residency at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute in 2006, he created an innovative “water collage” technique with Richard Hungerford, which he continued to exhibit the series locally and overseas, mainly in Southeast Asia at different exhibitions and events. Through all the travelling, he has gained insight into his artworks, pushing the boundaries of his usual medium to transform his artwork in the form of tapestry, glass and ceramics.
He received the Allen Tucker Scholarship and the Ford Foundation Scholarship (1962); First Prize, UOB Competition (1982); First Prize, Australia Business Council and Australia High Commission Art Award (1984) and Silver medal in the Salon des Artists François (1985) and the Cultural Medallion Award in Commendation (1989).
His artworks are widely collected, such as Singapore Art Museum, Changi Airport, United Overseas Bank, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Westin Hotel and many private collectors. His works are also displayed in public spaces at Conrad Centennial Hotel, May Bank, Punggol MRT/LRT station and the Singapore Turf Club.
Contact: +65 9634 3767, +65 9066 6494 (Theresa)