Wu Tsai Yen 吴在炎

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Artist Profile
The late Wu Tsai Yen (1911-2001) was an eminent finger painter who has been credited to have revived international interest in the art of finger painting, of which the last great specialist exponent was the Qing dynasty artist Gao Qipei (1660-1734). 
Having settled in Singapore by 1938, he was amongst the early traditional Chinese ink painting teachers at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts when it was founded in the same year. His numerous exhibitions and demonstrations, both local and overseas, have won him much admiration and acclaim. In addition, as founder of the San Yi Finger Painting Society -- the world's first such organisation -- in 1978, his influence on later generations of artists has been considerable. Wu’s later years in life revolved around a daily routine of practising taichi, tending to bonsaiand orchids in his garden, and looking after a multitude of pet birds, fishes, dogs and cats at home. It was is through such observations at close quarters that the artist had developed an intimate knowledge of plants and animals that form the main subject matters of most of his paintings. 
Reflecting the artist’s interest in flora and fauna, the exhibition includes a selection of large and small paintings that captures a range of his favourite subjects, from pine trees and to lotuses, to sparrows and goldfishes. Together, these 45 paintings drawn from the private collections of the artist’s family and friends and the artist’s generous gift to the Singapore Art Museum, provide an insight into Wu’s mastery of the technique of the finger painting. Equally adept in both ink and colour, Wu’s mastery of the xieyi (sketching the idea) style is evident in the atmospheric work Grapes in Ink and the naturalistic Plum Blossoms andBamboo. 
These were perhaps what led to the inscription by the famous 20th century artist Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) who described a lotus painting by Wu, in the following way: “With nature as inspiration, he wields his fingers as his heart desires.
” This is echoed by Mr Low Sze Wee, Curator of the exhibition, “Wu’s mastery of finger painting, coupled with an intimate understanding of his subject matter, led to works of art that are were filled with a natural charm and elegance.” 
Indeed, Fascination with Nature : Finger Paintings by Wu Tsai Yen is a tribute to a leading local artist who was relentless in his pursuit to promote finger painting. 
Artwork
Lotus,finger painting   ink & colour on rice paper 136 x 70cm 1982
Lotus,finger painting ink & colour on rice paper 136 x 70cm 1982
Gold Fishes, finger painting ink and colour on rice paper 126 x 63cm 1982
Rambutans, 1982, ink and colour on gold foil paper, 40 x 30cm
Grapes, 1982, ink and colour on gold foil paper, 53 x 45cm
Lotus, 1982 , ink and colour on rice paper, 65 x 129cm