VWFA begins its 2006 exhibition calendar with leading Singaporean contemporary artist, Tang Da Wu (b.1943). Since returning to Singapore from London's Goldsmiths College in 1988, the artist has invigorated the regional art scene with his many social and environmental themed art performances and installations. Tang Da Wu is also known for founding Singapore's 'Artists Village' and being awarded the Arts and Culture Prize at the 10th Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 1999. On show at VWFA will be a major new series of Chinese ink on paper.
Since 2003, the artist has been diligently capturing his impressions of islanders who inspire him. For Tang Da Wu, real heroes and true stories are found in the faces of the anonymous - old ladies who collect scrap cardboard and metal, saving money for their grandchildren's future, groups of young people "hanging out", hawkers and peddlers in corners of the island, forgotten or changed beyond recognition. His dark, sometimes brutish, often humorous pictures challenge viewers to find in these people something beyond the idealized and the stereotypical. The contrasting and layered ink washes give depth and reality to his characters, while strongly caricaturized features add power and pathos. Mixed with these portraits of the unknown and ordinary urban heroes are also pictures of powerful people on the Singapore arts scene. The encounter between such individualistic personalities with the idiosyncratic style of an artist such as Tang Da Wu results in paintings full of surprising forms and mysterious signs. Tang Da Wu gives us contemporary stories from a Singapore few see from the outside, immortalizing a moment in these islanders' history.