Underwater Series II Ocean Heartbeats.

Continuing the theme he started working on for his previous exhibition, Tay Kiam Hong goes even further in his exploration of the world of underwater life. He extends the scope of his pictures to include jellyfish, and here his brush captures the delicate movement and invisible heartbeats of the forms he paints. Without allowing his painting style to collapse into abstract art, he controls his work in strict Chinese painting tradition, emphasizes once more the importance of empty space, and leaves the person looking at the painting immersed in the delicate splendour of the underwater scene. Not only the colour of the ink but the colour of the paper is carefully chosen to make his paintings come alive.

The framing of the paintings for this exhibition is also innovative. Tay Kiam Hong, an interior designer by profession, has extended the principle of empty space and balance to include the way each painting is framed, individually original, further enhancing the ethereal movement of the underwater life in each picture.

Graham Sage

Extract of «Ecritures du monde» Le Monde.fr

Drawing from traditional Chinese painting techniques, where the purity of a single brushstroke counts, where the subject of the painting is captive and reproduced an infinite number of times within the confines of the picture, where there is a subtle play between never-ending shades of black, where we are pulled from the world as we see it into numerous symbolical alternative levels, Tay Kiam Hong's work is anchored in the modern environment of Singapore while at the same time being totally in tune with the universe.

The unusual source of inspiration for this painter, who travels little but who observes the evolution of marine life until it becomes almost an obsession with him, is the giant aquarium in the fun-in-the-sun island of Sentosa.


Who are these creatures moving inside his pictures, ready to escape to the right and to the left, but ready, too, to swim back into the painting?

Tiny turtles with translucid shells, striped sea-horses wending their way vertically through the water, soft jellyfish in different transparent colours floating like ghost ships attached to the ends of their long sperm-like tails, wide-eyed squids watching our every move.

The details and masterful brushwork could be that of an entomologist but the masterly touches of colour within the grey tones of the artist's work, project the paintings through time and space with the pulsating rhythm of life.

Kiam Hong held an exhibition of his work in November 2008 entitled Ocean Heartbeats.

Chantal Serrière
translation: Graham Sage

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