Searching the Realm of Reality with Frank TS Tan

Searching the Realm of Reality with Frank TS Tan

June 11, 2019

Frank Ts Tan born in 1970, is an oil painter from Malaysia. He earned a Bachelor Degree of Fine Art in 1995 from the National Taiwan Normal University where he majored in Oil Painting & Watercolour. After graduation he began practicing and teaching art in his studio, whilst also lecturing in art colleges for about 8 eight years.

"When you get closer to a forest, light and shadow casting out the shape of the trees, the leaves and branches crossing between each other, is hard to identify who is whom, an image that is combined with abstract and real appears in our mind," Frank's artwork shares that image with you.

"Through the extracting and the reinforcing from nature,  I reintegrated the image that I saw and painted it."

The real world is full of information and messages, Frank picks out the parts he's inspirited by and visualizes the image through his painting.

Frank TS Tan at work in his studio


What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?

Painting is the most direct and effective way to communicate.

How would you describe your own personal style?

Searching the realm of reality, I consider my style as contemporary realism. Reality provides a richness of messages and information, from which I select  the image and color that's touching me. Normally it exists in abstract form, then reshaping back to their appearances, sometimes it's not until you see it at a distance that it conveys the reality of the image, it releases the inner energy and merges the sense of reality.  

"Guard", Frank TS Tan, Oil Painting, 150cm x 180cm


What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?

The beauty of nature and reality provides the energy to push myself forward to create my works; I've strongly believe​ ​that my works will be​come​ better and better as time passe​s​.  

What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?

Information inspires the idea and the idea needs to be conveyed, then the act of painting steps in to play its' role; It's fortunate to live in an era that's full of information, all kinds of technology continue to expand our vision and cognition, such as navigation satellite systems, aerial photography technology, augmented reality technology and etc; it's obvious that the new experience and feelings can draw me to the easel. 

Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?

Painting is a matter for the human being, and therefore the people that surround me have actually inspired me a lot in different aspects and ways along with my art life, I'm grateful to all of them.

When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?

The medium that I prefer to use is oil. Normally I use flat brushes, fan brushes and round brushes a lot; If necessary, I will create some tools and brush for a particular need.  

"Accompany", Frank TS Tan, Oil Painting, 150cm x 180cm


When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?

When an image or an idea is matured, the theme is accompanied by it, and it takes a lot of learning and practice to stimulate the touch.  

Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?

It all starts with a touch of feeling, then by figuring out the shapes and the colors that inspire it leads me to create an abstract image, before finally reconstructing the appearance in reality that I want. Great ideas and concepts require a lot of hard work to cultivate them, after that it needs a skillful technique to express the exact meaning.  

Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is a more a case of when the moment is right you work?

Teaching and learning play a very important role in my daily life; It's always refreshing to exam to what I've learnt in the past by teaching students again and again. By learning and absorbing more information and knowledge such as history, culture, technologies, philosophies, techniques etc it inspires me, and motivates me to create my works.

"Window", Frank TS Tan, Oil Painting, 51cm x 76.5cm


When you work, do you focus on one piece at a time until completion or are you working on multiple pieces at the same time?

Acquiring the sensation, understanding the sensation and controlling the sensation is a routine part of the process of my study, this allows me to have the ability to pause and then continue the process of my works; the advantage of that is to have more time to exam and research the work that I'm working with, so working on multiple pieces at the same time is quite often the case for me.

How has your art evolved to be where it is today?

It all happened in my university graduation exhibition,  one of my classmates felt that one of my paintings was quite distinguished when compared with the other paintings, it stunned me at that moment, for the painting was quite different compared to my previous works in style; She said that it had a touch of 'being my work'; that led me in a new direction of ideas: as long as you're you, the form may be different but the meaning and the touch are still the same. Starting from that day, not only do I try to establish my own style and technique, I also focus on understanding the truth of my existence.

Which of your artworks are you most proud off?

Every artwork is proof of my work ethic and skill, and as a result I'm always looking forward to the birth of my new creations.

"Seep", Frank TS Tan, Oil Painting, 150cm x 180cm

Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?

There are a lot of great artists and works that I admire, please forgive me in that I can't remember them all by name, for most of the time my attention is focused on their actual work rather than the artist; As now the name of the artist I can recall in my memories is Richard Schmid, as I feel that his artwork is pure.  

If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?

The Renaissance was an era full of great artists, it would have been very exciting to work during that particular period.  

What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?

At the beginning of the 21st century the new technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence technology etc will affect and change the cogitation of time, space, axis etc, even  the existence of our-self that we've known in the past; it's exciting to be involved in these new issues.  

"Grass", Frank TS Tan, Oil Painting, 51cm x 76.5cm


What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist currently studying art?

Learning and study is the easy way to exam and knows our art is right.

Despite having developed your own distinctive style, is there another style of art that you are immediately drawn towards and admire? Why?

I appreciate the style developed by the Italian painter Giuseppe Castiglione. He merged the Italian painting techniques and the Eastern paintings techniques very well, that's amazing.  

We have all heard of the unfinished masterpiece, even Da Vinci laboured away at the Mona Lisa for years and years, have you works that are in a continual process of evolution? When working on an artwork do you find it hard to let go? Knowing when enough is enough?

There is a great possibility that we will have different ideas or thoughts as time passes; well, to understand your own self: the past, the moment and that what lies ahead is very important, if you can figure it out more clearly, you can manage it better, of course, that's not an easy matter. That's the way I think it should be, and that's the reason I know my work is done when is done. 

"Meet", Frank TS Tan, Oil Painting, 150cm x 180cm 


Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?

Art could be considered as a way of communication with yourself or to the outside world, we've got a lot of thoughts and need for expression, even just a personal feeling, I see no reason to limit our self. Some artists are purer, others are more complex, I belong to the last one. It might be easier to conclude that "I paint what I know and what I feel."  

What are you working on at the moment?

After finishing the 50 pieces in my landscape series, I'm planning to write something, such as a book of the art I know, and draw a series of still life; well, it still just a draft idea, I need more time to figure it out completely.  

"Canyon", Frank TS Tan, Oil Painting, 150cm x 180cm

Have you ever been part of an artistic group / movement? How did your work benefit from that experience?

No, I have never been part of an artist group nor movement; It will be very interesting for me to have this kind of new experience, I look forward to it. 

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