Like childhood memories, Tan Suz Chiang’s landscapes tap a wellspring of emotion, but can be fuzzy on the details. Deciding that his early work in realism lacked feeling or meaning, the Malaysian artist now takes a more abstracted view of places he holds dear. Through his eyes, we see the landscape as he remembers or responds to it, focusing as he does on only those elements that tell the story or relate his experience of the place.
The artist believes that abstraction lends itself to a greater sense of emotion in his work. “If I ask you to close your eyes and think about your childhood home,” he says, “some details will be clear and others blurry. Following this principle, I use abstract forms to capture the fading memory of places I love and that are significant to me.
“I’m also able to create a metaphor for the way in which modernization in Asia often comes at the expense of heritage and culture,” he continues. “When I’m painting a scene, I let my emotions dictate my use of color and the strength of my brushstrokes. I want to layer my painting with meaning and personality rather than just depict the scene in a realistic way.”
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