PETALING JAYA: For some, entering the job market for the first time can be daunting. Rejections, setbacks and even fear of the unknown can chip away at one’s self-esteem. Yet, “relentless” is one way to describe 22-year-old local artist Richie Tan, who knows rejection all too well but refuses to be fazed by it.
Currently, the promising artist’s latest series of abstract works are on display at Boci Bar One, a cocktail bar in Dataran Prima. And while it is hardly the traditional art gallery, Tan has his reasons.
FMT Lifestyle caught up with Tan at the grand launch of his exhibition, where he talked about his artistic path.
He said his passion for art took root when he began taking art classes at the tender age of four. It developed further in school. However, he only found his niche recently.
“I only started working on abstract art two years ago. In the past, I used to do the usual landscapes and portraits, but they have since become boring,” he said.
Apparently, what makes abstract art different for him is that he likes how it makes people think. “I want people to stare and think as they look at my artwork,” he said.
A mere glimpse at a piece of abstract art is not enough, he said. What he hopes for people to do is to “feel” the painting as well.
Tan said he was an expressionist, which is a school of art which presents the world subjectively. Vincent van Gogh is considered to be the founding father of expressionism. Rather impressively, Tan said he is a self-taught abstract artist.
The renowned artist Jackson Pollock and his unique style remains his greatest inspiration. “Although it’s just some lines and colours in a complicated pattern, his works make me want to know him and his story more,” Tan said of Pollock’s artwork.
One painting of Tan’s which clearly takes inspiration from Pollock is a particularly large one called “Live Goes On.”
Featuring splatters of paint in red, blue, white, grey and black, Tan said that this particular work was a collaboration with four friends.
The group of five had apparently gathered their stories of their lowest points in life, and expressed their feelings through the paint-blotched canvas.
So, why exhibit his works in a watering hole rather than the standard art gallery?
“Throughout 2022, I was rejected by over twenty galleries,” he admitted, adding that he decided to try his luck with cafés instead, which was where he finally caught a break.
Hence, his ongoing exhibition at Boci is his third, though it is his first “multisensory” exhibition, which he is thrilled about.
“I had a good place as a platform and good art. So, how do I make this place more valuable with my art?” By making the experience a “multisensory” one. A place where people can come to wine and dine, while feasting their eyes on his work. Add to that live music and you have quite the experience.
More importantly though, the paintings are all for sale with part of the proceeds to be channelled to “Woo & Meow Animal Shelter” in Hulu Langat.
Saying that his own pet dog was adopted, this is Tan’s own way of giving back to society after society helped him find success.
“I came so far only because of the support of my family and friends. If they could help me, it is only right to help those who need help too,” he said of the animals at the shelter.
Boci Bar One
21, Jalan PJU 1/39
47301 Petaling Jaya