His life started late, everything got going only after the ripe old age of 80. 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. A Cultural Medallion winner at 82, 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 colours than ever before, his art is as invigorating as that of a young man, whilst bodying forth the soul of a sage.



Born on September 28 to a rubber planter and a housewife, in a kampong in Pasir Ris, the eldest of the seven children. Some records state Lim's year of birth as 1923, but this was a false declaration made by the artist to appear younger, made with the hope that he would be able to work longer in a job.

C. 1930

Beginning of what would later come to be known as the Nanyang Style of painting pioneered by Singapore's first generation artists, characterised by an experimental and syncretic approach to pictorial representation.


Marriage of Lim Tze Peng to Soh Siew Lay. The couple would eventually have six children.


Graduated from Chong Cheng High School, where he nurtured his talent for calligraphy. As a Chinese-medium school modelled after those in China, Chung Cheng High placed a heavy emphasis on aesthetic education.


Began teaching career at Xin Min School.


Appointed principal of Xin Min School, where he remained till 1981.


Established his art practice.


Made a road trip to Malaya with Choo Keng Kwang, Chen Cheng Mei and Tan Teo Kwang, which would eventually lead to the informal gathering of what would be called the 10 Men Art Group. The group, led by Yeh Chi Wei, would also include Cheah Phee Whye, Lai Foong Moi, Lee Sik Hoon, Tan Miow Kheng, and Yeo Tiong Wah.



First 10 Men Art Exhibition at the Victoria Memorial Hall. The show was opened by Mr S Rajaratnam, Minister for Culture on 28th December, 1961.
(Artists: Lai Foong Moi, Yeo Tiong Wah, Lee Sik Khoon, Yeh Chi Wei, Cheah Phee Chye, Lim Tze Peng, Seah Kim Joo, Choo Keng Kwang, Chen Cheng Mei, and Tan Miow Kheng.)


Held his first solo exhibition.


Lim Tze Peng was part of a 25-person group that travelled to India, Nepal, Burma, and Thailand for a month. The trip was organised by Singapore Art Society, Society of Chinese Artists, the Malay Art Society and the Southeast Art Association.


Turned his focus from oil to ink painting.


Special Prize, Commonwealth Art Exhibition, England. Though initially rejected by the local selection panel as "neither Eastern nor Western", Lim's piece was eventually accepted for submission because of an appeal by his close friend and contemporary, Cheong Soo Pieng. The painting was an untitled Bali scene.

C. 1980

Government announced the impending "clean-up" of Chinatown and the resettling of street hawkers. Fearing that Chinatown would not be the same again, the artist produced a significant number of paintings there (and the Singapore River). These became some of his best-known works of Chinatown and the Singapore River.


Lim Tze Peng retired as principal, became a full-time artist. Upon retirement he received the Public Service Medal.


Second Solo Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery. Published A Collection of Calligraphy by Lim Tze Peng (first on his calligraphy)

YEAR 2000


Spent a 2-month residency in Paris, France, staying in the Cite Internationale des Arts (International City of Arts). Lim lived in one of the two apartments belonging to the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, leased in the late 1990s for use by artists of the Academy. During his stay, he documented the Parisian landscape en plain air. He also started painting from his home studio.


Lim Tze Peng was awarded The Cultural Medallion Award. During the same year he had an exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum and he donated 81 works to the museum.


Inroads: Lim Tze Peng's New Ink Works, Art Retreat Museum, Singapore.


The Ink Journey of Lim Tze Peng, National Art Museum of China, Beijing / Inroads: The Ink Journey of Lim Tze Peng, Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai.


My Kampong My Home, Singapore Management University.


His artwork titled "Singapore River Scene" (1978) fetched HK$620,000 (S$101,800) at a Christie's auction, setting a record for work sold at an auction by a living Singapore artist.


Opening of the Lim Tze Peng Art Gallery in Chung Cheng High School on 10th July, with a donation of over 100 pieces by the artist.


Awarded the Meritorious Service Medal at the National Day awards.


In September 2020, Lim Tze Peng celebrated his 100th birthday.