Singapore: Pop Artist Draws Inspiration from Cartoons, Advertisements and Photographs

Arts + Culture

An artist from Singapore draws inspiration from cartoons, advertisements, and photographs while integrating elements of Chinese paper-cutting and traditional blue and white porcelain in one of his works.

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Singaporean artist Andre Tan with his depiction of the Empress Dowager. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.


More than 675 exhibitors exhibit more than 3,000 artworks at the first ever Singapore Contemporary Art Show.

The first piece of art that drew my attention was the portrayal of the Empress Dowager (1835 – 1908), who effectively governed China for 47 years from 1861 until her death. It was on display, in fact, at the first booth that I visited.

Utterly Art LLP, Singapore, had several pieces of art by Singaporean artist Andre Tan on display at Singapore Contemporary Art Show, and this was one of them.

Based on a photograph of the Empress Dowager, the piece was created by stencil and suggests elements of Chinese paper-cutting in its composition.

Chinese paper-cutting is almost always done with red paper, however. So Chinese blue and white pottery seems to have been the inspiration for Andre’s use of colour in this piece.

In the photograph that the piece is based on, the Empress is sitting demurely with hands placed on her lap. In Andre’s work, she is demurely holding a Louis Vuitton handbag, which appears in some of Andre’s other works.

When told the painting was created through the use of stencil, I thought there might be multiple copies of it. When I asked Andre if multiple pieces had been created, however, he said, no; it was a singular piece.

Chinese Pop Art

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Works by Singaporean Artist Andre Tan at the Utterly Art LLP, Singapore, booth at the Singapore Contemporary Art Show. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Many of Andre’s artworks seem to take inspiration from American Pop Art Icon Andy Warhol and Chinese Political Pop Art Artist Wang Guangyi.

Andy Warhol, of course, needs no introduction. In case you don’t know who Guangyi is, however, he was the first Chinese artist to add elements from Western advertisements to propaganda posters from the Cultural Revolution, which rocked China from 1966 to 1976.

Remember the painting of Chairman Mao drinking Coca-Cola?

Guangyi once explained on a television documentary that if the purpose of propaganda posters was to deify human beings (such as turning Chairman Mao into a god-like figure), the purpose of his paintings was to turn deities (such as Mao) back into human beings. Thus the references to Western Pop Culture in his art.

Guangyi’s works have given rise to countless imitations, and works based on revolutionary artwork now populate the walls of art galleries in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, and other cities.

Artist’s Bio

Getting back to Andre, the Singaporean Artist studied art at Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts in Singapore and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in Australia. He received his Master of Arts in Fine Arts in 2006.

Andre’s works have been exhibited at various exhibitions in Singapore and abroad. He has been commissioned to create works for several hotels. His paintings have been collected by private collectors in Australia, Britain, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and Switzerland.

I wish I had had the presence of mind to ask Andre how much he wanted for that piece. I’m sure it would have been much more than I would be prepared to pay. And it would have been totally inappropriate to have bargained!!!

But it was the first piece that caught my eye (and at the first booth I visited, no less), and I had dozens more exhibits to check out – and a tour to take.

In retrospect, that painting of the Empress Dowager was the piece of art that I liked best at the Singapore Contemporary Art Show.

At least I DID have a presence of mind to take a picture of it – with the artist himself posing with it, no less!

Utterly Art LLP, Singapore, was one of 65 exhibitors exhibiting more than 3.000 artworks at “A World of Art” of the first ever Singapore Contemporary Art Show , which was held during Singapore Art Week 2016.



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