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A detailed biography about Ms Tan Cheng Cheng's journey in the art scene. She was raised in Penang where she briefly attended the Penang Art Studio from 1960 - 1961 and later moved to study Oil Painting at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), Singapore. 

Penang Art Studio

1960 - 1961
Malaysia's tiny yet charming and gentle isle - Penang Island, is renowned for its sobriquet "The Garden of the Orient". Before 1960, in tandem with its commercial thrust and political openness, Penang has gradually become an important rendezvous city for Chinese all over the world: especially from the social, political or aspects. It became Dr. Sun Yat-sen's revolutionary base, as well as the subsequent supportive and notable efforts in the form of Save China Anti-Japanese movements. It has been in avant-garde cosmopolitan for a long time: keeping abreast with world trends, initiating the liberation of ideas, advancing the renaissance of the arts, producing numerous distinguished personages in various fields and endeavours.

Penang Island is an ever-green "Garden of the Orient", with verdant hills and crystal clear waters; a remarkable place which produces outstanding people. Penang has produced the world famous plague fighter, Dr. Wu Lien Teh; the Confucian classics translator Gu Hong Ming, Professor of English Literature, Beijing University; the Doyen of Batik Painting Datuk Chuah Thean Teng; renowned water colourists Yong Mun Seng, Khor Sia and Tan Choon Ghee, etc. Penang has attracted many famous artists and man of letters to stroll its shores: Xu Beihong, Zhang Daqian, Kang Youwei, Yu Dafu, Yi Junzuo to name a few.

In Penang's artistically filled environment, the contemporary master artists; Chuah Thean Teng, Kuo Ju Ping and Tan Choon Ghee founded the Penang Art Studio at 12 David Chen Gardens, Penang in 1959. This was the rendezvous for artists: learning, working, and interacting. The trio not only put their bets on the studio, but also exuded their individual artistic styles, banishing the old and brandishing the new, unleashing each and everyone's originality and creative spirit. The artists who ow hold the Malaysian art scene spellbound somehow or other are connected with the Penang Art Studio. For example: US-based artist Cheng-Khee Chee; Singapore-based Khor Ean Ghee, Kuala Lumpur College of Arts Principal Cheah Yew Saik; Equator Academy of Art Penang Principal Dato' Chuah Kooi Yong; Penang-born artists Chan Boon Hong, Yeo Eng Siang, Chooi Yew Seng, Lim Eng Hooi, Khoo Khay Tat and Lim Chan Hong; water colourist Chai Chuan Jin, oil painter Chong Hon Fatt. The Studio-trained artists include: Cheong Pooi Yip, Ooi Chee Hooi, Khor Seow Hooi, Phoon Kok Cheong, Tan Cheng Cheng, Tao Xiwen, Qiu Baisi, Chuah Siew Teng, Chuah Seow Keng, Choy Siew Kek and Teh Hock Guan, etc.

Time flies at shuttle speed: being the first Pan-Malaysian studio of fine art, the Penang Art Studio since its foundation till now, at the blink of an eye has traversed half a century. This article briefly traced the roots of its origin, background and enumerates some if its students and artists. The main aim is to put on record an indelible part of Malaysian art history and enshrining some of its past forgotten milestones.

Due to a lack of funds, even though the studio only lasted two years, it must be put on record the glorious efforts of the pioneers; the trio blazed a new trail, they could even wear out stones with patience, they tended the seedlings of artistic talents, they scaled artistic heights, and went through the arduous and torturous road without any regrets. Their lofty aspirations and sentiments, should be extolled and forever engraved in Malaysian art history.Penang Art Studio, has now become our historically forgotten treasure trove. After this unravelling, it is fervently hoped that this event will be engraved in the history of Malaysian Art, thus redeeming its glorious advent as milestone.Presently, the profession of art industry faces stiff competition. However, we hold steadfastly the goals and ideals. Past artists strenuously strived for their best, their spirit of struggle were not weakened, their outlook always optimistic, audacious and challenging, exuding the best of their fighting spirit.

Even though the past has gone forever, we do not lose our tenacity, for we will face right on whatever challenges.Bracing the storms and winds, we have with us many artist friends and fellow-travelers, never abandoning one another, but facing the challenges shoulder to shoulder, thorough thick and thin, we will triumph at the rainbow's end. This profound friendship has its spirit carved in stone. In fact, "A myriad years is too long. Seize the hour, seize the day!" The profession of art is but another form of Long March. Our future road of art is long and arduous, but we will match it with our tenacious fighting spirit.A goblet of cloudy liquor amidst the wind and the rain, new and old winds intermingle, and we fervently hope that the art profession even though it faces numerous difficulties and obstacles, at the ultimate end it proudly proclaims;"A thousand panning, a myriad filterings while strenuous and bitter, the ultimate blow will swirl the frenzied sands & yield the gilded glitter."

Chuah Siew Teng, Penang
Translated from Chinese into English by Prof. Dr. Chuah Chong Cheng






在这么浓郁的艺文氛围中,槟城当代画坛三大巨匠蔡天定郭若萍和陈存义于1960年在陈允恩花园门牌12号合创"(Penang Art Studio)"成为艺术工作者学习,活动和交x的场所。他们旣能博采诸家之长,也能各标风格,破旧立新,发扬原创精神。目前大马画坛上的佼佼者,许多与槟城画屋颇有渊源,诸如旅美画家徐靖沂,旅新画家许延义,吉隆坡艺术学院院长谢有锡,槟城赤道艺术学院院长拿督蔡贵荣,本地画家曾文煌,杨应祥,崔耀成,林英辉,邱继达和林展鸿。水彩画家蔡传仁,油画家张汉发。在画屋接受培训的画家计有张,培业,黄拮挥,潘国祥,李祖恩,陈青青,蔡小丁,蔡小庆,蔡小杰等。



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