James Tan graduated from the Singapore Academy of Art in 1972 and continued his studies with Chinese brush painting masters in Singapore, Taiwan and San Francisco until 1980 establishing himself as a master of the traditional and Lingnan schools of Chinese brush painting with his own distinctive style. He has taught and lectured extensively world-wide, including The National Museum Art Gallery (Singapore), The Victoria and Albert Museum in London. and annual lecture & demonstration at the arts in Action? festival in London, U.K. Mr. Tan has won an extensive list of awards and honors and has exhibited extensively. 38 one-man shows in Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Dubai, Bahrain, Australia, England, Germany, the U.S.A., and Canada.
The Lingnan School of Chinese Painting was originated in the 1920s. During that time, three painters, Messrs. Gao Jianfu, Gao Qifeng and Chen Shuren, who all had studied painting in Japan, were not satisfied with existing conservative Chinese painting teaching methods which mainly encouraging followers to copy and duplicate. Thus they started to revolutionize Chinese painting. “Compromising Chinese & foreign art, blending the past and the contemporary’” is their aim. And so they have initiated the New Chinese Painting Movement which in time were gradually accepted by many followers. Later on people named this new style of Chinese Painting:“The Lingnan School of Painting”.