Tan Swie Hian

b. 1943


Tan Swie Hian | 陈瑞献 (b. 1943, Pulau Halang, Indonesia) is a multi-disciplinary Singaporean artist known for his oil, acrylic and Chinese ink paintings, calligraphy, sculptures, poetry and novels. His Buddhist faith and knowledge of Eastern and Western philosophy and artistic traditions are reflected in his work.

Tan is a self-taught artist. While at Chinese High School, he began to read widely from Chinese classics to Greek mythology. He also demonstrated talent in drawing, calligraphy and poetry. Tan went on to major in literature at Nanyang University, graduating in 1968 with Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages and Literature. Tan worked as press secretary at the French Embassy and throughout his 24 years there, he continued pursuing his passion for art. He retired in 1992 to focus on his art.

Tan made a debut in the arts scene with the publication of his modernist, avant-garde Chinese poetry collection, The Giant (1968). His first solo exhibition, Paintings of Infused Contemplation, was at the National Library in 1973.

Tan has received more than 20 local and international accolades in the disciplines of visual arts, literature and performing arts. These include the Gold Medal of the Salon des Artistes Français (1985), Cultural Medallion for Visual Arts (1987), Meritorious Service Medal, Singapore (2003) and the Officier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur, France (2006).

Tan has exhibited in more than 20 solo exhibitions internationally, including the National Theatre Gallery, Bucharest, Romania (1995), the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland (2003) and the Singapore Art Museum (2004). Group exhibitions include participation in the Salon des Artistes Français at the Grand Palais, Paris (1985), the Venice Biennale (2003), the Singapore Art Museum (2005) and the Beijing Biennale at the China National Art Museum in Beijing (2011).

Tan’s works have been collected by Singtel, the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit Corporation, museums, public and private corporations and private collectors internationally.

In 1993, an avid collector, Tan Tien Chi, established the Tan Swie Hian Museum, the first private art museum in Singapore.