Maquette for Fountain

Tan Teng-Kee (1937-2016) was a leading sculptor in Singapore during the 1970s and 1980s, an influential teacher, an active member of the Modern Art Society, and a pioneer of public art. Born in Batu Pahat, Johor, Malaysia, Tan studied Chinese and Western painting in Hong Kong and metal sculpture and printmaking at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, Germany before moving to Singapore in 1970 to take up a position in the applied sculpture department at the Baharuddin Vocational Institute. Tan introduced a new form of sculpture to Singapore, using metal and industrial materials to construct abstract forms, rather than modelling based on the human figure. His work in public sculpture constitutes some of the earliest examples of commissioned public art in Singapore, where he was able to expand his approach to form and material into an accessible and distinctive aesthetic. He won an outdoor sculpture competition for Plaza Singapura in 1973 with Musical Fountain, constructed from dozens of brass pipes, which was installed in 1974 and remained in place until 1989. This maquette demonstrates Tan’s interest in linearity, as well as his use of simple materials and repetition to create a lyrical sculpture.