Tung Yue Nang

Singapore Infopedia

by Nurhaizatul Jamila Jamil

Tung Yue Nang (邓汝能 ; b. 1959, Singapore–) is a Singaporean artist who subscribes to the Chinese philosophy of Tao Te Ching (Dao de jing; 道德经) (“Classic of the Way of Power”) in his art practice. While initially focused on traditional Chinese paintings, Tung subsequently allows elements of Western art to permeate his style. He has exhibited widely and won a number of awards.1

Early life
While Tung was educated in both English and Chinese, he has always been more at ease with the latter. At the age of 15, he was taught Chinese painting, calligraphy, seal carving and engraving by artist Shi Xiang Tuo. This was the only formal art education he received before embarking on his artistic career. From then on, Tung used the elements of Chinese art to develop a personal style motivated by the Tao philosophy.2

Tung was a graphic design director before he left the corporate world to become a professional artist.3 Besides painting, Tung has also written Chinese poetry, and learnt the art of ceramics and sculpture from Singaporean sculptor, Ng Eng Teng. Despite his wealth of experience, Tung continually seeks to improve his skills.4

Stylistic conventions
Tung subscribes to the Tao Te Ching philosophy of life, which allows him to reconcile art with life. The Tao way focuses on harmony and tranquillity amidst chaos and disorder. This is reflected in Tung’s art, in which he constantly searches for both harmony and tranquillity, even in the most banal objects and occurrences in everyday life.5

Even though Tung immerses himself in Chinese art, he is also fascinated with Western modernist art. He has acted on this fascination by combining Western art concepts and media with Chinese art and philosophy in his works, such as the One series.6

Tung’s early artworks comprised mainly landscapes in the traditional Chinese style. The creation of these artworks allowed him to concentrate on his inner spirituality, as such paintings constantly emphasised the positive (yang) feelings over the negative (yin) ones. Thereafter, Tung painted landscapes and local sights and sounds in broad strokes using the “high perspective of traditional Chinese art”.7

Subsequently, Tung replaced naturalism with abstract representations in his art. He also began to experiment with acrylic and mixed media paintings. This led to his One series of paintings, which marked his evolution from Chinese traditional painting to Western art concepts, but without completely neglecting the former.8

While the One series reflected meticulous planning and careful execution of every single detail, the Paper Music series employed the pastiche and collage method of juxtaposing torn coloured rice paper enriched with Chinese calligraphic brush to symbolise the richly textured surface.9

The Peranakan series was motivated by Tung’s deep-seated interest in the culture of the Peranakan (Straits Chinese) community. He used paraphernalia common to this community to reflect its identity; each object was depicted with the intensity of a photographic print.10

In more recent years, Tung returned to ink paintings.11 In his Journal series, he paints scenes of the present-day Singapore using Chinese ink, brush and rice paper.12 To him, ink painting offers a tranquillity he has found after different attempts and better reflects his state of mind.13

Tung has also taken up photography and explored with this medium. He commented that he prefers photographing people to scenery, and that photography facilitates his communication and interaction with people.14

Learning journeys
Tung travels widely to seek inspiration and spiritual nourishment. He has been to China, Nepal, the Middle East, Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand as well as most Southeast Asian countries. He often returns from such trips with renewed insights and inspiration for his art, which would culminate in a new series of paintings.15

Solo exhibitions16
1988: Space & Time, Pavillion Hotel, Singapore.
1989: New Work, Singapore.
1989: One, Malaysia.
1989: One, Pavillion Hotel, Singapore.
1990: Tung Yue Nang at the Hyatt, Singapore.
1997: Baba & Nonya: The Art of Tung Yue Nang, Singapore.
1998: Land Before Time: The Art of Tung Yue Nang, Art Forum, Singapore.
1999: EARTH: The Art of Tung Yue Nang, Orchard Point, Singapore.
2000: Heaven on Earth: The Bali Sojourn, Paragon, Singapore.
2002: Chinatown My Chinatown, Paragon Atrium, Singapore.
2003: Baba & Nonya: Double Happiness, Paragon Atrium, Singapore.
2011: Saigon Life (Art of Tung Yue Nang), White Canvas Gallery, Singapore.17
2014: Silence, Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, Singapore.18
2015: Reunion – Baba & Nonya Series by Tung Yue Nang, Pan Pacific Hotel, Singapore.19

Group exhibitions
Singapore Youth Festival Arts & Crafts Exhibition, Singapore.

1977: Beautiful Singapore River Exhibition, Singapore.
1977: Chinese Calligraphy Competition & Exhibition, Singapore.
1981: National Day Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1982: National Day Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1985: National Day Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1985: 4th UOB Painting of the Year, Singapore.
1985: The Four-Man Team Exhibition, Malaysia.
1985: International Calligraphy Exhibition, China.
1986: National Day Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1987: 6th UOB Painting of the Year, Singapore.
1987: Chinese Calligraphy Exhibition, China.
1987: Clean River Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1987: MCI Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1987: Chinese Calligraphy Exhibition of Community Centres, Singapore.
1988: National Day Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1988: 7th UOB Painting of the Year, Singapore.
1988: National Museum Centenary Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1989: 8th UOB Painting of the Year, Singapore.
1990: IBM Art Award & Exhibition, Singapore.
1990: Modern Art Travels East-West, Netherlands.
1990: Modern Art Travels East-West, Singapore.
1990: 9th UOB Painting of the Year, Singapore.
1992: National Kidney Foundation Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1993: SCGS Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1993: New Age: A New Art Movement Exhibition, Singapore.
1993: An Exhibition of Print Works by Singapore & Jilin (China) Artists, Singapore.
1994: Singapore Artists Speak 2 Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1996: 25th Anniversary  Preservation of Monuments Board Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1996: Molan Art Association Exhibition, Singapore.
1996: New Age 2: Earth to Earth Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1996: “Proof”, Contemporary Printmaking Association Exhibition, Singapore.
1997: Of Things Peranakan Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1998: Molan Art Association Exhibition, Singapore.
1998: Image Nude, an exhibition by Group 90, Singapore.
1998: President’s Charity Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1999: President’s Charity Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1999: Molan Art Association Exhibition, Singapore.
2000: Nuphoria 2000, an exhibition by Group 90, Singapore.
2001: Pulp Friction: Materials in Contemporary ArtSingapore Art Museum, Singapore.
2002: NU-Sense, a nude art exhibition by Group 90, Singapore.
2002: Naked Perfection, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore.
2002: Creative Calligraphy Grand Exhibition 2002, Atrium MITA, Singapore.
2002: Molan Art Association Exhibition, Singapore.
2014: Impressionist Contemporary, Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, Ion Orchard, Singapore. 21
2017: Commemorating NS50 Through Art, Singapore Art Society, Singapore; Nanyang Sentiments, Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, Singapore.22
2018: Explore: A Comprehensive Look into 8 Artists, Artredot, Singapore; Masters from Three Generations, Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, Singapore. 23
2020: An Exploration of Art Movements: Realism, Expressionism & Contemporary Art, Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, Singapore.24

1977: Distinction Certificate, Singapore Youth Festival Exhibition.
1977: Meritorious Award, Beautiful Singapore River Art Competition.
1977: Open section second prize, Singapore River On-The-Spot Art Competition.
1977: Open section second and third prizes, Chinese Calligraphy Competition (On-The-Spot).
1985: The 4th Painting of the Year Highly Commended, UOB Painting of the Year Competition.
1987: The 6th Painting of the Year Highly Commended, UOB Painting of the Year Competition.
1987: Merit Award, Clean River Art Competition.
1987: Outstanding Award, Ministry of Communications & Information Art Competition.
1988: The 7th Painting of the Year Highly Commended, UOB Painting of the Year Competition.
1989The 8th Painting of the Year Distinction Award, UOB Painting of the Year Competition.
1990: The 9th Painting of the Year Highly Commended, UOB Painting of the Year Competition.
2002: Dr Tan Tsze Chor Art Award (Chinese Painting).
2013: Dr Tan Tsze Chor Art Award (Chinese Ink).26

Nurhaizatul Jamila Jamil

1. Tung Yue Nang, Baba Nonya: The Art of Tung Yue Nang (Singapore: National Arts Council, 1997), n.p. (Call no. RSING 759.95957 TUN)
2. Tung, Baba Nonya, n.p.
3. Tung, Baba Nonya, n.p.
4. Tung, Baba Nonya, n.p.
5. Tung, Baba Nonya, n.p.
6. Tung, Baba Nonya, n.p.
7. Tung, Baba Nonya, n.p.
8. Tung, Baba Nonya, n.p.
9. Tung, Baba Nonya, n.p.
10. Tung, Baba Nonya, n.p.
11. Zhou Yanbing 周雁冰, “Dengruneng gezhan yuanyi fajue chengshi di mei” 邓汝能个展 愿意发掘城市的美 [Tung Yue Nang’s exhibition – the willingness to uncover the beauty of city], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, 14 April 2016. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website); “Tung Yue Nang,” Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, accessed 23 March 2020.
12. Tung Yue Nang, Baba Nonya: Double Happiness: Art of Tung Yue Nang (Singapore: Tung Yue Nang, 2003), 107. (Call no. RSING q759.95957 TUN)
13. Zhou Yanbing 周雁冰, “‘Mo mo jing jing——dengruneng niu che shui xin shuimo xiesheng zhan’ qianfanguo jin zhaodao yipian mingjing” ‘墨黙境静——邓汝能牛车水新水墨写生展’ 千帆过尽找到一片明净 [‘Silence: Ink Paintings by Tung Yue Nang’ The tranquility that he has found after a long journey], Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, 14 June 2014 (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website); Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, ‘Tung Yue Nang.”
14. Cheah U-Hoon, “A Fresh Perspective of Chinatown,” Business Times, 20 June 2014, 28. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Tung, Baba Nonya, n.p.
16. Tung, Double Happiness, 107.
17. Chen Shanshan, “Backstage Pass,” Strait Times, 4 August 2011, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
18. Cheah, “Fresh Perspective of Chinatown.”
19. “Arts,” Straits Times, 12 June 2015, 22. (From NewspaperSG)
20. Tung, Double Happiness, 106.
21. Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, ‘Tung Yue Nang.”
22. Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, ‘Tung Yue Nang”; “Nanyang Sentiments,” Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, accessed 31 March 2020.
23. “Explore: A Comprehensive Look into 8 Artists,” Arts Republic, accessed 31 March 2020; “Masters from Three Generations,” Time Out, accessed 31 March 2020. 
24. “Singapore Art Week 2020 Opening Day at Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery,” Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, accessed 31 March 2020.
25. Tung, Double Happiness, 108.
26. Singapore Art Society Artists' Directory 1949–2014 (Singapore: Singapore Art Society, 2015), 247. (Call no. RSING 709.5957 SIN-[DIR])

Further resources
Tung Yue Nang, Art of Tung Yue Nang (Singapore: Tung Yue Nang, 1998). (Call no. RCLOS 759.95957074 TUN)

Tung Yue Nang, Heaven on earth: A Bali sojourn (Singapore: Tung Yue Nang, 2000). (Call no. RCLOS 759.95957074 TUN)

The information in this article is valid as at April 2020 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.



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