Ang Ah Tee

Singapore Infopedia

by Nurhaizatul Jamila Jamil


Ang Ah Tee (b. 11 November 1943, Singapore–) is a veteran Singaporean artist known for his acrylic, watercolour and oil paintings.1 Since 1976, he has created more than 2,000 paintings, a remarkable feat for an artist.2 Some of his works include Kashmir (1994), Shanghai (1994) and First Day of Summer (1996). He travels extensively to find inspiration, and his paintings are often products of thorough research and intensive thought processes.3 His landscape paintings are widely sought after by collectors in the region.4

When Ang realised that formal education could not satisfy his desire to learn more about art, he decided to attend art classes in the afternoon, after formal school in the morning.5 From 1960 to 1962, he received his art education at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) in Singapore.6 He has always placed greater emphasis on his art education over his academic schooling. However, despite completing art training in 1962, he did not become a full-time artist until 1977.7

Stylistic conventions
As a pragmatist, Ang believed that to be a professional artist in Singapore, he had to produce paintings that were commercially viable. He therefore made the Singapore River and Chinatown the foci of his paintings.He dabbled in both watercolour and oil and was able to merge his pragmatic, economic instincts with a keen sense of aesthetics. He also subscribed to a distinctive painting strategy inspired by English painter William Turner: Ang would isolate the landmark, record it in sketches on location, then develop it into a painting in the studio.9

In 1976, having painted all the prominent local landmarks, Ang embarked on a painting trip to Bali, which proved to be a turning point for his creativity. The lush Balinese landscape greatly contrasted with Singapore’s and prompted him to explore other parts of Asia. He went to Malacca, Bangkok, Delhi, Hong Kong and other cities to derive inspiration for his paintings.10

In 1978, he switched completely from watercolour and oil to acrylic, which he considered to be a better medium for his artwork. Acrylic allows him to obtain both the transparency of watercolour and the texture of oil. As a result, his later paintings often display rich hues framed by an effusive glow.11 In addition, acrylic also dries faster and enables him to paint spontaneously.12 The scale of his paintings has also shifted from intimate proportions to wider contexts.13

Over the years, Ang’s concept of the landmark has evolved. While it has remained the focal point of his art, he has expanded it to include cityscape, townscape, villagescape and even typical shop fronts, thus blending together the historical, social and cultural aspects of his subjects.14

Learning journeys
Ang travels widely to collect materials for his art. He prefers on-site painting, as it allows him the immediacy to capture on canvas the seemingly trivial but inspirational details that are often overlooked in everyday life.15

In 1981, after gaining critical recognition for his works, he launched an ambitious tour across Europe to paint the diverse landmarks of the continent. He went to London, Paris, Rome and Venice, as well as Germany, Denmark and Spain. He also visited Egypt, Nepal, Kashmir, China and Australia.16

Since his first trip to rural Malaysian towns and fishing villages in 1963, he has been going overseas for painting trips, often alone and sometimes with his artist friends.17

Solo exhibitions
1980: First solo exhibition, Mandarin Hotel, Singapore.18
1982: Second solo exhibition, Ming Court Hotel (now Orchard Parade Hotel), Singapore.
1984: Third solo exhibition, Ming Court Hotel, Singapore.
1985: Fourth solo exhibitionGoodwood Park Hotel, Singapore.19
1988: Old Places of the World, Hyatt Regency, Singapore.20
1993: The Next Step: Recent works 1990-93, Shenn's Fine Art Gallery, Singapore.21
1997: New Destinations: Recent Works in Oil by Ang Ah Tee, CHIJMES Caldwell House & Shenn's Fine Art Gallery, Singapore.22
2003: Visual Enchantments, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
2006:Inspired Journeys, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore.
2006: The Oviato Collection - Ang Ah Tee's Paintings, Singapore.
2010: Ang Ah Tee: Fascinating Visions, Singapore.
2010: New Vision, Penang State Gallery, Penang, Malaysia.
2013: Reminiscence, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore.
2016:The Spirit of Bhutan, Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, Singapore.23
2017:Reminiscing Landscapes, Artcommune Gallery, Singapore.24

Selected group exhibitions
1974: Two-Man Show, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Singapore.
1976: Bali Tour Art Exhibition, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Singapore.
1977: Jubilee Art Exhibition for Queen Elizabeth II, London, England.
1979: Joint Art Exhibition, Hilton Hotel, Bahrain & Sheraton Hotel, Dubai.
1979: Guest participant in the 1st Southeast Asia & Pacific Congress of Clinical Biochemistry, Mandarin Hotel, Singapore.
1980: Joint Art Exhibition, Convention Hall, Tel Aviv, Israel.
1980: Contemporary Singapore Paintings, Fifth Festival of Asian Arts, Hong Kong.
1984: Joint Singapore Artists Art Exhibition, Panaga Club, Negara Brunei Darussalam.25
1986: Singapore Artist Art Exhibition, National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan.26
1987: Joint Art Exhibition in Aid of National Kidney Foundation, Dynasty Hotel (now Marriott Hotel), Singapore.
1987: International Teochew Artists’ Art ExhibitionRaffles City, Singapore.
1988: Asian Watercolours”, Third Exhibition of the Asian Watercolour Confederation, Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
1989: First Brunei - Singapore Art Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Negara Brunei Darussalam.
1989: New York Art Expo Singapore Preview ExhibitionNational Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1989: Twenty Singapore Artists for New York Art Expo, Jacob K. Javits Convention Centre, New York, United States.
1990: Singapore Artists Speak Art Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.27
1991:Changing Singapore Sights, Empress Place Art Gallery, Empress Place Building, Singapore.28
1991: Change: 20 Singapore Artists – A decade of their work, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.29
1995: President’s Watercolour’s Selections Singapore.
2000: Asian Watercolour’s 2000, Taipei, Taiwan.
2001: Singapore Art Society & Dr Tan Tsze Chor Art Award Exhibition, Singapore
2005: DBS Art Collection Exhibition, The Arts House.
2005: Singapore Artist Art Exhibition in Chengdu, China, organised by Federation of Art Societies (Singapore).
2006: Important Second-Generation Artists Series, DLR Gallery, Singapore.
2007: Unique 9, Cape of Good Hope Gallery.
2009: Stretch Your Imagination, A Singapore – Malaysia Artists Joint Art Exhibition in Malaysia and Taiwan.30
2010:Many Minds, One Destiny: 4 Decades of Nanyang Art (1938 – 1979), Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Galleries 1 & 2.31
2010:Selected Singapore Master Artists, SBin Art Plus, Singapore.32
2013: Nanyang Inspirations, ION Art Gallery, organised by Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery.33
2013:The Singapore Showcase: Growing Roots and Venturing Beyond, ION Art Gallery, organised by Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery.34
2014:Cities of Yesteryears: Five Prominent Artists’ Impressions of Cities (画影心踪:那些年,那些城——新加坡五大名家之城市印象), Jastar Art Gallery, Singapore.35
2014:Nanyang Visionaries, ION Art Gallery, organised by Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery.36
2015:Classic Nanyang, ION Art Gallery, organised by Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery.37
2015:A New Horizon, China Cultural Centre, Singapore.38
2015:Nanyang Flavours (南洋风情), Oviato Fine Art, Singapore.39
2016: Nanyang Treasures, Art Stage Singapore, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.40
2016:Encounter with Artists’ Expression, Oviato Fine Art, Singapore.41
2017:Commemorating NS50 Through Art, Singapore.42

1974: Prize winner in the Port of Singapore Authority Open Art Competition.
1978: National Day Art Award, Singapore.
2001: 1st Prize Dr Tan Tsze Chor Art Award (Western Painting)
2009: Cultural Medallion, Singapore.

Ang and his wife, Adeline, have one son, Jeremiah, who is a photographer.44

Nurhaizatul Jamila Jamil

1. Koh Buck Song, ed., Singapore: Places, Poems, Paintings (Singapore: Art and Artist Speak, 1993) 203. (Call no. RART 700.95957 SIN)
2. Koh, Singapore: Places, Poems, Paintings, 202.
3. Choy W. Y., introduction to New Destinations: Recent Works in Oil by Ang Ah Tee, Oct–Nov 1997, by Ang Ah Tee (Singapore: Shenn's Fine Art, 1997), n.p. (Call no. RSING q759.95957 ANG)
4. Koh, Singapore: Places, Poems, Paintings, 202.
5. Koh, Singapore: Places, Poems, Paintings, 202.
6. Tay Suan Chiang, “Medallion Heroes,” Straits Times, 17 October 2009, 107 (From NewspaperSG); Koh, Singapore: Places, Poems, Paintings, 202.
7. Koh, Singapore: Places, Poems, Paintings, 202.
8. Koh, Singapore: Places, Poems, Paintings, 202.
9. Choy, introduction to New Destinations.
10. Choy, introduction to New Destinations.
11. Koh, Singapore: Places, Poems, Paintings, 202.
12. Leong Weng Kam, “Capturing the Spirit of Bhutan,” Straits Times, 22 August 2016, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Choy, introduction to New Destinations.
14. Choy, introduction to New Destinations.
15. Koh, Singapore: Places, Poems, Paintings, 202.
16. Choy, introduction to New Destinations.
17. Leong, “Capturing the Spirit of Bhutan.”
18. “Page 13 Miscellaneous Column 1,” Business Times, 7 June 1980, 13. (From NewspaperSG)
19. Ang Ah Tee, The Spirit of Bhutan: An Artist's Vision (Singapore: Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, 2016), 37. (Call no. RSING 759.95957 ANG)
20. “Page 5 Miscellaneous Column 1,” Straits Times, 12 June 1988, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
21. Susie Wong, “Nostalgia in Umber,” Straits Times, 18 June 1993, 23. (From NewspaperSG)
22. Ben Munroe, “Just a Step in an Artistic Journey,” Business Times, 31 October 1997, 18. (From NewspaperSG)
23. Ang, Spirit of Bhutan, 37.
24. “Exhibitions (Galleries),” Straits Times, 10 November 2017, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
25. Ang Ah Tee, New Destinations (Singapore: Shenn’s Fine Art, 1997) (Call no. RSING 759.95957 ANG)
26. Ang, Spirit of Bhutan, 37.
27. Ang, New Destinations.
28. “Exhibitions,” Business Times, 15 June 1991, 28. (From NewspaperSG)
29. “Page 16 Miscellaneous Column 1,” Straits Times, 19 July 1991, 16. (From NewspaperSG)
30. Ang, Spirit of Bhutan, 37.
31. Deepika Shetty, “Nanyang Art over 40 Years,” The Straits Times, 11 March 2010, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
32. Natalie Koh, “Remembering Singapore Master Artists,” Business Times, 30 July 2010, 34. (From NewspaperSG)
33. “Page 16 Advertisements Column 1,” Straits Times, 15 February 2013, 16. (From NewspaperSG)
34. “Page 10 Advertisements Column 1,” Straits Times, 14 November 2013, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
35. Zhou Yanbing周雁冰, “Xinjiapo wuda mingjia huazhan yong huabi zhuizhong chengshi bianhuan jingguan” 新加坡五大名家画展 用画笔追踪城市变幻景观 [Exhibition of five prominent artists in Singapore: Tracing the changes in cityscape with brushes], 联合早报 Lianhe Zaobao, 19 July 2014, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
36. “Page 10 Advertisements Column 1,” Straits Times, 4 July 2014, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
37. “Page 12 Advertisements Column 2,” Straits Times, 5 July 2015, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
38. Leong Weng Kam, “Art Boost for Sino-S’pore Cultural Exchange,” Straits Times, 22 November 2015, 21. (From NewspaperSG)
39. “San huajia zhan nanyang fengqing” 三画家展“南洋风情” [Three-artist exhibition: “Nanyang flavours”], 联合早报 Lianhe Zabao, 24 November 2015, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
40. Ang, Spirit of Bhutan, 37.
41. “Arts,” Straits Times, 29 April 2016, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
42. Nabilah Said, “Works Inspired by National Service,” Straits Times, 18 July 2017, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
43. Ang, Spirit of Bhutan, 37.
44. Tay, “Medallion Heroes; Leong, “Capturing the spirit of Bhutan.”

Further resources
Ang Ah Tee (n.p., 1982) (Call no. RCLOS EPHE P31 V1.1)

Ang Ah Tee, Ang Ah Tee: Reminiscence (Singapore: Ang Ah Tee, 2010). (Call no. RSING 759.95957 ANG)

Ang Ah Tee, Inspired Journeys (Singapore: Ang Ah Tee, 2006). (Call no. RSING 759.95957 ANG)

Ang Ah Tee, The Next Step: Recent Works 1990–1993 (Singapore: Shenn's Gallery, 1993). (Call no. RSING 759.95957 ANG)

National Kidney Foundation presents an art exhibition by 5 prominent local artists: Ong Kim Seng, Wan Soon Kam, Ang Ah Tee, Tan Swie Hian, Sandy Teng (poster, 1987). (Call no. RCLOS 759.95957 NAT)

Ang Ah Tee, oral history interview by Teo Kian Giap, 15, 17, 22 December 2014, MP3 audio, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. 003950).

What’s up this week ...,” Straits Times, 9 April 2010, 10. (From NewspaperSG).

The information in this article is valid as at May 2021 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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