Goh Beng Kwan

b. 1937

Singapore

Goh Beng Kwan | 吴珉权 (b. 1937, Medan, Indonesia), is noted for his singular approach to abstraction and collage. Goh is inspired by nature and the environment he is in. He works intuitively and many of his collages are created from materials collected from his immediate surroundings, chosen for their local qualities. Goh has used an extraordinary range of materials for his art, and continues to stretch the definition of what could constitute artists’ resources. His bold approach has greatly influenced other mixed media artists like Lim Tiong Ghee, Lim Leong Seng, Tan Chin Chin and Ng Yak Whee.

Goh migrated to Singapore in 1946. In the 1950s at the Chinese High School, he studied Chinese ink painting, calligraphy and oil painting under Chen Wen Hsi and Cheong Soo Pieng. In the early 1960s, Goh continued his art education in the United States, where he gained exposure to modern American art. At the Art Students’ League of New York (1962 – 1963), he was under the tutelage of abstract expressionist Sidney Gross. Goh began to experiment with abstract compositions and brushwork then. Subsequently, he attended Provincetown Workshop in Massachusetts (1964). Here he was mentored by Victor Candell and Leo Manso. Manso introduced Goh to collage, encouraging him to form his own artistic identity by incorporating the influence of his cultural roots. Goh took inspiration from his Chinese and Peranakan ancestries in developing his abstract collages. 

Goh’s first group exhibition was in 1961 at the National Museum Art Gallery, followed by a solo exhibition at Ruth Sherman Gallery, New York (1965). Returning to Singapore a year later, he held several solo exhibitions including Journeys (1992) at the National Museum Art Gallery. In 2006, he was Visiting Artist at Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore.

Goh received the first prize in the inaugural UOB Painting of the Year competition (1982), the silver medal in the Salon des Artists Français (1985, France) and the Singapore Cultural Medallion (1989). His works are in the collections of Singtel, the Singapore Art Museum, Changi Airport and the Land Transport Authority.