A story of two loves

Lim Tze Peng turned 100 in September 2020. His is an extraordinary life, one that really started only when he reached the ripe old age of 80. He is best known as the artist who painted, on location, several ink versions of the old Chinatown and Singapore River. He is also well respected for his ability with words, or more accurately, the Chinese character. Executed in Chinese ink, his unique stroke is admired by calligraphers even in China, and his innovation in calligraphy has contributed to new ways of appreciating and practising the age-old institution of writing.

On reaching 100, he has focused on a new genre: abstract. While he has done abstracts before, they are now bigger, bolder and more colourful. This May, he will reveal his new abstracts in an exhibition that will showcase these never-been-shown before works. The exhibition is timed to coincide with the release of a book on his life and work called “Soul of Ink”.

The book chronicles two loves, an 80-year-old love with his wife, the other, an 80-year-old love with art.

80-year-old love affair with wife

Theirs was an arranged marriage. The month they were introduced was also the month they became husband and wife; no courtship, no date. It was a new year, 1945, everything was done in a hurry during the Japanese occupation. He was 24, she was 19. She grew to like her husband who was tall, handsome and caring; he quickly grew protective of his sweet and hardworking wife. Their son was born by the end of the year, the first of six. In those days, no one talked about love.

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80-year-old love affair with art

His love for art started when he was in school, although he was always shy to show anyone what he drew. He was however more confident of his calligraphy. In Chung Cheng High he studied under eminent calligrapher Huang Jai Ling.

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