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“The Blue of Distance” by Wyn-Lyn TAN at FOST Gallery, 04 September – 25 October 2015

“I am becoming more lucid before nature…” Paul Cézanne (1839–1906)

Wyn-Lyn TAN, The Blue of Distance, 2015

Reflecting on her way of thinking and work processes, the artist Wyn-Lyn Tan recently wrote:

“My work in this exhibition pays homage to these landscapes I’ve visited, as I give breadth to vistas ofmemories, light, colour and atmosphere. But moving beyond the ‘landscape,’ the act of mark-making is asmuch a subject. As in abstraction, there is the process of ‘finding’ the painting, and knowing when it hasreached its most poignant – allowing for all the contradictions between something that looks like it couldbe determined, but which also appears to be the result of chance and spontaneous mark-making.”

Wyn-Lyn TAN, Vista II, 2015, Acrylic on linen,

Wyn-Lyn’s engagement with mark-making has become a key subject in expressing her growing interest inthe materiality of her practice. The results are most evident in her latest works, radically utilising the spaceof FOST Gallery in Singapore for the artist’s The Blue of Distance exhibition in September 2015.

How do we approach the work of Wyn-Lyn Tan? An artist from Singapore, she received a relatively traditional training, learning the techniques of Chinese painting early on. As she wrote after her first residency in December, 2006 at Red Gate Gallery in Beijing:

“I went to Beijing with the express purpose of reconnecting with my oriental roots. There, I looked at materials and traditional ink paintings. I experimented a lot with rice paper and Chinese ink. This trip subsequently formed the Eastern element in my East-West style of painting.”

Since that time, much has changed. Over the past nine years, the subject of the sublime has become immanent in the work of Wyn-Lyn. This has come not only with her studies of Chinese art but, equally, her subsequent residencies and experiences in Northern Europe. For, soon after her visit to Beijing, Wyn-Lyn was given her second international residency for one month in March of 2007. The experience at the Fiskars Artist Residency in the village of Fiskars in Finland, proved to be a breakthrough for the artist. It allowed Wyn-Lyn to combine her training in Chinese painting together with the influence of both European painting and the direct impact of a Northern European landscape. She spoke of the experience some years later:

“There is a link between China and Europe. I found that the sense of breathing space/sparseness/whiteness can be experienced in Eastern ink painting and also in the Scandinavian sense of aesthetics. In Scandinavia, the sense of sparseness and whiteness and snowscape gave me inspiration. This trip was a most inspiring period of my artistic life. It shaped the direction of my style and I discovered my painting language which I still carry forward even today…Looking back, I now realise that Finland was impetus for my current fascination with remote locations, light and northern latitudes.”

The experience was exceptional, as Wyn-Lyn discovered a landscape that was composed primarily of rock and water with the most neutral, minimal and abstract of appearances.

“This was my first encounter with Northern Europe, and the start of my fascination with the region, as well as the beginning of a ‘lighter’ visual language that continues till today. I arrived in Fiskars Village to a winter landscape blanketed in snow, and I saw a resonance in that Northern vastness that connected with the sense of ‘breathing space’ and emptiness in Chinese landscape paintings.”

While on residency, Wyn-Lyn produced a series of five paintings on-site, which were subsequently shown in her first solo exhibition Lighter at FOST Gallery in Singapore from 8 May to 30 May, 2009. The paintings in the exhibition show a continuation of Wyn-Lyn’s exploration of a link between Western and Chinese painting, using water as ink in her painting processes. There is a fluidity in the work, forms shifting, disappearing, only to reappear across the surfaces.

Playing with the ambiguity of form, oscillating between representation and abstraction, the new work explored space and a viewer’s perception of it. Nothing is stable, one’s eye is caught up in a storm of elements: water, land and air seem to merge into one.

Almost sculptural in their curved edges, each of these pieces can stand alone as individual paintings ontheir own. But will eventually come together to form a larger-scale installation, reminiscent of a ramblingvista. Composed across the gallery’s anchor wall, this ‘landscape’ will be reflected in a curved, semi-circular mirrored surface below, thus amplifying its vastness. With this work, the process of painting isquestioned. The act of composition followsafter the painting is completed, when the wood pieces arecomposed on the wall, which then becomes the larger ‘painting.’

In working with wood, I also discover anew form of materiality. New marks are discovered as I bleed paint across the wood grain, and usesandpaper as a tool for scratching away negative spaces.

In a second body of work, paintings of various lengths but similar height (61cm), are hung in a seeminglyendless row, with no spaces between each painting and the horizon line running continuously at the samelevel. This long, scroll-like vista creates a meditative panorama that immerse the viewer, while alluding totraditional Chinese scroll paintings, from which the East-West sensibilities in my work stem from. Thepaintings will start from the beginning of one of the gallery’s corridors, and span all the way around toalmost half of the gallery’s space to the opposite wall (ending just before the main entrance door).In the other corridor, two large paintings hang on opposing ends of the corridor’s length. Each painting isencased within a deep box-like frame lined with mirrors on the inside. Sized to seamlessly fit the width ofthe corridor, the paintings appear as ‘windows’ or portals into another dimension – in both the literal andpsychological sense.

About the Artist

Wyn-Lyn TAN (b. 1974, Singapore) has a BA in Fine Arts from the Royal Melbourne Institute ofTechnology. She received aHighly Commended Work Award in Abstract Medium at the 22nd UOBPainting of the Year Competition (Singapore) in 2003. Tan has been awarded numerous grants andresidencies since, including theEmerging Artist Grant, 2003 and Arts Professional Development Grantin Visual Arts, 2011 from the National Arts Council (Singapore); and theFiskars Artist Residency(Finland). In 2011, she was one of two Singaporean artists to ever take upThe Arctic Circle Residency.Her works have been widely exhibited in various exhibitions in Singapore and abroad. She isrepresented by FOST Gallery in Singapore, where she lives and works. In September 2015, Tan will bepursuing her MFA at Tromso Academy of Contemporary Art in UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

About Gillman Barracks

Gillman Barracks is a new contemporary art destination in Singapore. Nestled amid lush greenery, this former colonial barracks is now home to local and international art galleries, dining, and creativebusinesses, as well as the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) that opened in late 2013. The CCAenhances the region’s contemporary art landscape through its international artist residency, researchand exhibition programmes.For more information, visit please


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  • Wyn-Lyn TAN, The Blue of Distance, 2015

    Wyn-Lyn TAN, The Blue of Distance, 2015

  • Wyn-Lyn TAN, Vista II, 2015, Acrylic on linen,

    Wyn-Lyn TAN, Vista II, 2015, Acrylic on linen,