Zhuang Sheng Tao
b. 1944 -
Born in Guangdong, China, Zhuang Sheng Tao's first foray into the hallowed tradition of Chinese ink painting was through See Hiang To in 1964. The pair met when Sheng Tao won the first prize in a calligraphy competition, at which See was one of the judges. He studied calligraphy and painting under See Hiang To's tutelage and went on to deepen his knowledge in the Chinese classics with a Masters degree at the then Nanyang University. Years of training in the Chinese classics paved for Sheng Tao a steadfast erudition in the philosophy of Taoism and his paintings express the beauty and all-encompassing scope of this philosophy.
Sheng Tao's passion for painting saw him embark on study trips to Paris, New York and Seattle, allowing his paintings to evolve into a synthesis of the traditional and the avant-garde. His adherence to the Chinese literati concept remains striking in his ink expression even as he composes with rhythmic, abstract monochromatic colour elements.
Sheng Tao's ink paintings are essentially poetries of nature; rather than presenting formal properties of a landscape, his work distills the physical essence of nature into motion, rhythm and atmosphere. Since the 1990s, his work often features an introspective synthesis of Western abstracting technique and Chinese xieyi painting (xieyi—literally translated as “sketching idea”—is a Chinese freehand brush technique that relies on sparse but expressive use of brushwork to reveal the spirit or essence of the subject). He retains the monochromatic scale in his contemporarising of the Chinese ink painting language and engages the complexity of Chinese ink through lyrical brushwork, tonal variations and metaphysical voids.