Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gan Kee Leong (Yan Lu) 颜绿

Gan Kee Leong (Yan Qilong, 1907 - 1982), better known as Yan Lu, was born in September 1907 in Anhai Town, Fujian Province. In 1926, he attended the School of Arts Education at the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, but later moved to the Arts Faculty of the Shanghai University of Arts. He graduated from the university in 1930.
A teacher for most of his life, Gan had taught in China for 18 years before he came to Singapore in 1948. He tried several jobs but finally settled for teaching again. He taught Chinese language and Geography in Chung Cheng High School for 23 years. He was once a lecturer of the Nanyang University, teaching its pre-university students geography.
After retired from Chung Cheng High School, he taught at Sanyu Adventist School for 5 years before total retired from working life in 1975.
He practiced calligraphy since young. He learned to use the brush with a five-kilogram weight on his forearm and an egg under his wrist when his was a small boy. This training method kept his hand steady and his wrist flexible. When he was teaching in a village school in Anhui far away from his home, he worked with his brush every night to while away the time. This solid foundation has enabled him to keep his forceful strokes through his 40-odd years in Singapore despite lack of frequent practice.
He preferred lively, natural strokes, and belonged to the stele calligraphy school, as he was much influenced by the ‘Shimen Inscription’ and ‘Zhang Menglong Tablet’. He wrote in xing style, which resembles a walking man, and developed a unique style of executing rounded corner of the strokes. His calligraphy is judged to be natural and unforced, moving leisurely with rare appearance, like floating clouds and flowing water.
A quite man by nature, Gan did not conduct any art classes except a few enthusiastic students who came to him. He taught in the Chinese Calligraphy Society of River Valley Government Chinese Middle School (the predecessor of River Valley High School). He was also appointed Advisor of the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore in 1973. Two books on his calligraphic works were published in 1980 and 1983 respectively by the Society.
Tan Swee Hian (Chen Ruixian) and Khoo Seng Kong (Qiu Chengguang) are two of his students that are active and well known artists in Singapore.
He went back to China in May 1981 and passed away in September 1982.

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