- About the Author
Soul of Ink: Lim Tze Peng at 100 pays tribute to the remarkable achievement of artistic renaissance at 100. It traces the lean beginnings of Lim Tze Peng's early years, relives the times of controversy over the artist's innovations in Chinese calligraphy, and celebrates his breakthroughs. Throughout the book, attention is paid to Lim Tze Peng the man, the foundation of everything that is admirable about Lim Tze Peng the artist. It looks at the man behind the art, and how art has given life to him and his family.Farmer, teacher, principal, and artist, Lim Tze Peng counts Lee Man Fong, Cheong Soo Pieng, and Liu Kang as his mentors. These men, like the others from the pioneering generation of Nanyang artists, are no longer around. Lim Tze Peng remains standing, a witness to and player in Singapore's art history since the 1940s.His life started late; everything got going only after the ripe old age of 80. A Cultural Medallion winner at 82 and a Meritorious Service recipient at 95, Lim Tze Peng is used to the twists and turns of life and has been trained by experience to endure the vagaries of fate. You could describe his art as the art of perseverance. The works he produces these days need to be seen to be believed. Bigger, bolder, and boasting far more colour than ever before, his art is as invigorating as that of a young man, whilst embodying the soul of a sage.At the heart of this book is the word 'soul'. What pushes a man at the age of 100 to continue breaking new ground in his life's work? How has he been able to surprise not just the art community but himself?This is Woon Tai Ho's second book on a Singaporean artist. His first, To Paint a Smile, is about the artist Tan Swie Hian.
"I first met Mr Lim at the Chung Cheng High School 80th Anniversary celebration in 2019. He showed me the huge artwork hung on the school wall, a cross between a calligraphy of Man Jiang Hong《满江红》 (The River Runs Red) and a painting. I am very simple when it comes to art appreciation, and that piece of work managed to evoke a sense of awe in me. I visited Mr Lim's studio later, and spoke with him at length about his work. What amazed and impressed me most was his young mind. He has made a conscious effort to reinvent his artwork over and over again, and you can see how his style has evolved over the decades. Something he said is etched in my mind, 'I can't sleep well at night sometimes, because I am thinking through how to paint what I have in mind.' Mr Lim is a true lifelong learner, artist and gentleman."
-My Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Transport, Chairman of Chinese Development Assistance Council, Board Member of Monetary Authority of Singapore, MP of Sembawang GRC
"Master Lim Tze Peng is one of my cultural heroes. He has excelled in both calligraphy and landscape painting. His life and achievements are inspiring."
-Prof Tommy Koh, Rector of Tembusu College, Ambassador-at-Large of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chairman and Governing Board of NUS Centre for International Law and National University of Singapore, Special Advisor of NUS Institute of Policy Studies
"A very thoughtful piece of writing. Well done."
-Liu Thai Ker, architect and Founding Chairman of MORROW consultancy, former Chief Planner at Urban Redevelopment Authority
"This book is unlike other earlier publications on Lim Tze Peng. Reading it is like watching a relationship blossom between the author and artist. Written from the perspective of an 'arts outsider', we eagerly follow the author as he sets off to investigate the man behind the artworks. From this book, we gain a better understanding of the ties that bind the artist with his family, friends and collectors, and from that vantage point, a deeper appreciation of his artistic practice and beliefs."
-Low Sze Wee, CEO of Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, former Director of Curatorial & Collections of National Gallery Singapore
"Tai Ho has meticulously followed and studied the daily routines of artist Lim Tze Peng. He has written, with insightful details, a riveting book on the way the artist works and the various phases of his painting and calligraphy. This is an invaluable record of a person's lifelong evolvement and commitment to art."
-Ong Kim Seng, award-winning, world acclaimed watercolourist and member of American Watercolour Society
"I became a fan of Woon Tai Ho's writing after I read his book, To Paint a Smile, in 2008. The story of Tan Swie Hian, as sketched by Woon, was a page turner with rare insights into the painter's work. It was like reading one man's journey into another man's art. His new book, Soul of Ink, goes further by not just probing another artist's work but his life, too. Lim Tze Peng is a ripe 100 and the book celebrates the painter's art and his existence with a keen eye for the details and a sharp ear for the sounds that ordinary souls don't pick up. Words meet art and the result is a joyous splash of colour and prose."
-PN Balji, veteran journalist and author of Reluctant Editor: The Singapore Media as Seen through the Eyes of a Veteran Newspaper Journalist
"This book shows, beyond art history and theory, how Lim Tze Peng's lived experiences best explain the magnificence of his art. A hundred years of cultural learning and practice help."
-Kwok Kian Chow, former museum director of Singapore Art Museum and National Gallery Singapore
"Soul of Ink: Lim Tze Peng at 100 brings readers through the life journey, artistic style and philosophical wisdom of a distinguished centenarian — a Cultural Medallion winner, an educator and a family man. This brilliant piece of writing brings out the essence of Lim Tze Peng and his art — assimilating both East and West, and yet transcending both, analogous to our Singapore Spirit and Heartbeat."
-Pang Choon How, principal of Hwa Chong Institution and former principal of Chung Cheng High School
"Lim Tze Peng is a reminder that we should always paint with our hearts."
-Jazz Chong, owner of Ode to Art
"Lim Tze Peng takes his talent seriously. He paints every day and works harder than most artists younger than him. His ink, oil and calligraphy form a cultural and artistic heritage, an important legacy for our young nation. This book is a salute to his art of perseverance."
-Terence Teo, President of Singapore Art Society and Director of Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery
"Lim Tze Peng is the bumiputra of Singapore art, son of our soil."
-Jimmy Koh, Managing Director of Antara Koh
"This book is a story of a man with two passions: a portrait of an artist consumed with love for paintings; and the nourishing love for his wife and family. Written in a vivid and visual narrative, the reader sees and feels the spiritual, colourful world of an artist. Lim Tze Peng is inseparable from his ink and paper. Every ounce of strength is muscled to hold a brush and allow the ink to create yet another piece of class. Truly, the Soul of Ink indeed!"
-Albert Lim and Linda Neo, art collectors
"Soul of Ink tells the story of a 100-year-old artist who still paints every day. Written in an engaging and personal style, it gives a rare insight into one of Singapore's most important artists. A must-read."
-Melvin Poh, art collector
"It is with utmost delight that I observe how Tai Ho observes Mr Lim. Although he takes copious notes, for the most part, he just listens. When I read the chapters afterwards, I am not only astounded by the details but also how he has connected the dots and strung what he saw and heard into themes for the book."
-Chua Eng Lee, neighbour and close friend of Lim Tze Peng
"When a 100-year-old man writes the word 'love' in ink on rice paper, it stands out from the everyday celebration of the word in mass media: songs, advertisements, and casual exchanges. The word, out of a plethora of Chinese characters to choose from, summarises in calligraphy everything important without the need to explain or elaborate."
-Chen Yi Quan, artist
"Soul of Ink reminds us of the sacrifices so many artists have to make in order to persist at making art. They often have to work so much harder than any other profession and often for hardly any money before they are famous. Lim Tze Peng persisted and it was not until he was 80 years old that his art was truly valued on a global scale. This book is truly an inspiration for artists and non-artists alike, and a peep into the genius mind and touching life of a remarkable talent."
-Kelley Cheng, Creative Director of The Press Room Group
"Lim Tze Peng is a role model for Singaporean artists. There is no one like him ... At 100, he still seeks to break new ground. And the writing too, this book is an inspiration."
-Yeo Mang Thong, writer and art critic
"Tai Ho's descriptive writing style enables me to visualise Lim at his creative peak ... It is an intimate portrait of a humble man who captures the memories of generations of Singaporeans, and a life-affirming illustration that artistic creation need not be limited by age."
-Alex Lou, art critic
"Modest to a fault, Lim readily admits he does poorly at schmoozing with 'the right people'. But his art speaks for him and now, more than ever, it speaks beautifully. And it always speaks of Singapore. In the space of a few years, he captured the vanishing visages of his country, focusing on the Singapore River and Chinatown in nearly 500 Chinese ink paintings."
-Irene Hoe, writer, editor and educator
Woon Tai Ho has been a media person most of his career. He is best known for starting the Asian-wide news channel, Channel NewsAsia in 1999. In the course of more than two decades, he launched news and entertainment channels across Asia, including MiTV and Channel K in Myanmar. Tai Ho has produced and directed many current affairs programmes and documentaries, a number of which have won regional and international awards.
Tai Ho wrote his first book, To Paint a Smile, in 2008, in part a response to a world that witnessed new and different financial crises and political developments. The genre-defying book weaved political, economic, and social events into the art and philosophy of Singapore's renowned artist, Tan Swie Hian. The book's success launched his writing career. He has also been commissioned to write for government agencies and international organisations. His knowledge about countries around the world, especially Asia, and his love and insights about art and artists in the region make him a valued features contributor on many media platforms.
In 2013, Tai Ho wrote his first novel, Riot Green. Using his deep knowledge of the art world, Tai Ho crafted a story around an art prodigy and created a compelling page-turner, true to the realities of the art landscape as the narrative was to the wondrous colours of a canvas.
Soul of Ink is the first comprehensive biographical book on artist Lim Tze Peng written in the uniquely insightful and visual style of this author.
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 250
Year Published: 2021