Dayak: Woodblock Prints by Tay Chee Toh

Quoting myself: “If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I often refer to The List, as in ‘It’s on The List’ or ‘I’m adding it to The List.’ The List refers to a physical checklist of stuff to do, places to go, and things to see while we are here.

One of the items on The List reads, “Learn More About Southeast Asian Art.” Scrawled underneath that, “Learn More About Singaporean Art.”

o o o o o

Last month, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts’ (NAFA) Galleries showcased ten absolutely stunning woodblock prints by Tay Chee Toh, a prolific painter/sculptor, a NAFA alumnus, and the recipient of the 1985 Cultural Medallion. These dreamlike works, printed on luscious gold and silver fabric, were inspired by the Dayak people, a loose term for over 200 ethnic subgroups  located principally in the interior of Borneo.

Tay Chee Toh studied fine art at NAFA and was deeply influenced by his teachers Georgette Chen, Cheong Soo Pieng, Chen Wen Hsi, and Chen Chong Swee.* He, too, created in the “Nanyang” style of his mentors.

As I understand, the Nanyang style, a “home grown” art movement pioneered by Chinese artists, is rooted in both Western (namely, Post-Impressionism and Cubism) and Chinese painting traditions. So, if you, like me, see the inspiration of Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin in Tay Chee Toh, you are not far off the mark. Gauguin, too, was also an influential proponent of wood engraving and woodcuts as art forms.

* wOOt! More for The List.