Rebuilding Bukit Ho Swee

Born in 1933 in Singapore, Tan Choo Kuan was trained in Western Art at Singapore’s Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. A dedicated art teacher and prolific artist, Tan’s legacy was recognised in October 2005 with the Singapore Art Museum’s acquisition of 74 select sketches and drawings on paper completed between 1953 and 2005.A large portion of Tan’s drawings in the collection are of significant historical importance, as they are scenes of a bygone era that document the urban development of Singapore. In this drawing, Tan has recorded for posterity the rebuilding of Bukit Ho Swee after the 1961 fire that destroyed 2, 200 squatter homes. True to his enduring compositional style, Tan has placed nature in the foreground, but in the background one can see the construction taking place of the government’s newly conceived public housing high-rise development to re-settle the homeless.