The work jumps out at the viewer,
every stroke is a giant sweep.

Abstract 1

(Also called Abstract Calligraphy 3, 抽象书法3 in the exhibition)

  • 2020
  • 1490 x 2110 mm
  • Chinese ink and colour on paper

For someone known for his calligraphy and ink works, this large and colourful abstract is an absolute surprise, both in terms of the artist’s choice of colours and the way in which he has allowed black ink to drip from the centre of the painting. At 8 by 4 feet, the work jumps out at the viewer, every stroke is a giant sweep. It is probably the most powerful abstract work produced by the artist in 2020. One is reminded of what Lim Tze Peng has always stood for, that the language of his art is neither Eastern nor Western, but one that aspires to be universal, open and all embracing. The viewer accesses this work emotionally through the heart. And standing next to it, the viewer cannot but be moved. It is a raw and powerful piece.

The choice of orange as backdrop is a pleasant surprise; it wraps the central content and readies the eyes. The warmth of the orange establishes an optimistic tone, and then the viewer’s eyes are drawn right into the body of emerald green and deep-blood red that looks almost purple. The bold ink strokes are what gives the work its strength, although the eye cannot leave the striking green alone. The greens add a luminosity to an otherwise heavy piece of work, suggesting life and growth.

But what really captures the viewer’s attention are the deliberate drips of black ink. There are spills and splatters, and these are small enough not to overwhelm, but large enough to be noticed. They are the only parts of the piece that suggest its roots in Chinese calligraphy. On the other hand, when the work is examined with reference to the western art history canon, it seems very much in line with Wassily Kandinsky’s abstract expressionism, and echoes Jackson Pollock’s action painting and his gestural, improvised “drip” oils.