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Lim Yew Kuan
Photograph: National Arts Council

Artist Lim Yew Kuan passes away at age 92

He made significant contributions to Singapore's art scene, even steering NAFA through some of its most difficult times in the 60s and 70s

Dewi Nurjuwita
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Dewi Nurjuwita
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Artist Lim Yew Kuan (林友权) has passed away on May 9 at age 92. He was a second-generation Nanyang artist and an arts educator who has taught art for four decades. This includes a stint as the second principal of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), succeeding his father and founding principal Lim Hak Tai. In 2011, received the Cultural Medallion for his significant contributions to the visual arts scene in Singapore. 

An important figure in art history, Lim Yew Kuan was born in 1928 in Xiamen, China, and came to Singapore during the Second World War to join his father Lim Hak Tai. He graduated from NAFA with a major in Western Art in 1950 and taught in the institution for seven years before he furthered his studies in the Chelsea School of Art in London between 1958 and 1962. When his father passed away in 1963, the artist took over and served as principal until 1979. His contributions to visual arts include steering NAFA through some of the most difficult times in the 60s and 70s and nurtured generations of artists. 

"An artist does not simply strive to create a painting that is aesthetically pleasing," Lim once said. "Only when he has experienced life and understood the nature of things can he be a true artist." 

Those who familiar with the artist's works will know about his nude paintings and distinguished expressionism, which were what he was known for. He was also well versed in various mediums, including watercolour, oil and sculpting. Lim's signature style was his textured strokes, rich colour and delicate touch of the brush which effectively captures time, mood and emotion in his paintings. 

Keen to check out his work? Lim’s works can be found in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Singapore, National Gallery Singapore, the Istana and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – alongside other local and overseas. 

RECOMMENDED: 6 artists behind the Nanyang-style art movement in Singapore 

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