The Art of Nai Tong


Tew Nai Tong is a renowned artist whose impressive career spans four decades. A Klang native, he gradu- ated from NAFA in Singapore and continued his studies in Paris at Ecole National Supervieure Des Beaux-Arts and is today, recognized internationally and locally for being a distinctive figurative and landscape artist. His earlier artworks in watercolour and later works in oil, all exude a feeling of freedom and great expression of movement through his scenes of mostly tropical rural living and beautiful portraits of village farmers and fishing folk.

From 18 January to the 2nd of February 2013, Glories by Tew Nai Tong will be exhibited at PINKGUY Gallery. Featuring 27 works from his oeuvre, old and new, the exhibition focuses on some of the artists most accomplished figurative works. In this collection, paintings of diverse stylistic variations will be displayed for viewing pleasure. Known to be a master of the old Nanyang style as well as the new, the exhibition will highlight and emphasize Nai Tong’s skill in revealing the graceful move- ment of figure, his journey as an artist as well as his mastery and unique take on a well-established technique and subject matter. With new works on show, the exhibition illustrates yet another step in Nai Tong’s journey through life, painting and Asia.

Informed by his travels to Paris, Bali and Thailand, Nai Tong reveals a versatility in his works as well as a consistent aesthetic that is unique to the artist – Stylized Balinese and Sarawakian figure types, school of Paris Chic and even Chinese painting traditions all seem to feed into Nai Tong’s modus operandi. Rich surface treatment of his canvas draws viewers in to take pleasure in such the painterly approach, and in his depictions of Asian women Nai Tong rejoices and celebrates the hardworking and dedicated

characters he has experienced through his journeys. One particular feature of Nai Tong’s figurative works – his signature ‘squinty eyes’ expres- sion, is his leit motif, seen in all his works representing serenity and the importance of having a good family relationship and doing hard work without grievance. Not just simplistic renditions of ordinary life, his paintings reflect aspects of sociopo- litical surroundings and collective spirit of current climes, making him an important artist of our time. Through the years, he has achieved a particular effectiveness and eloquence in his representations, portraying a multitude of scenes that are rich in culture, mysterious and ambiguous, as well as charming and captivating in mood, demonstrating the artists special ability to observe and capture everyday tableaus and transform what may be considered ordinary, into great works of art for our appreciation.

In 2009 Nai Tong was awarded the prestigious Grand Prize Asia Art Award in Seoul, South Korea in recognition of his many contributions to the Malaysian art scene as well as exposing the rich cultural heritage and the Fine Arts of Malaysia to the Interna- tional community. He is considered by some to be one of the top 10 artists of Malaysia and his works have been auctioned at Christies and Sotheby’s as well as through Malaysia’s own Henry Butcher Art Auction- eers. Highly collectible, many of Nai Tong’s paintings are in private collections both local and International. Institutions that have acquired his artworks include National Art Gallery Malaysia, National Art Museum in Singapore and the Sarawak Museum in Kuching.

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