Tay Bak Koi (1939-2005)


Tay Bak Koi (1939-2005). Cow #2, 1967. Oil on canvas measures 20 x 36 inches. Signed and dated lower right. Excellent condition with no damage or restoration. Abstract cubist-inspired landscape depicts a water buffalo gazing at his own reflection in a pool. Unframed.

Price on request


Tay Bak Koi was born in Singapore in 1939, and died in 2005. A second generation Singaporean artist, Tay Bak Koi is well known for his portrayals of fishing villages, kampong scenes and buffalo.

His medium of choice was predominantly oil, but watercolour was another favoured medium for Tay. His distinctive style combined a mixture of both realism and fantasy to create truly unique works of art.

His works have been extensively exhibited in Singapore and internationally, including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, Japan, The United States, and Germany. In 1970 he was also commissioned to produce some 300 works for the Hilton Hotel in Singapore.

Tay Bak Koi’s talent for drawing was originally discovered by his father’s friend, who then enrolled him at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1957. His teacher was first generation Singapore artist Cheong Soo Pieng, one of the founding fathers of the Nanyang style of painting and thus far, the most successful selling Singaporean artist.

Allegedly, Tay Bak Koi possessed somewhat of a rebellious streak, and was often dissatisfied with the rigidity of his school education. He spent a large portion of his time during his 3 year education period earning a living selling crabs at a market stall whilst continuing to experiment with his artistic skills.

He was keen to follow an artistic path, but similarly keen to ensure that he possessed a distinctive style, and there is little doubt that Tay Bak Koi ultimately delivered, with his works clearly distinguishable from a distance.

Much like Chen Wen Hsi with his distinctive Gibbons, Tay Bak Koi is arguably most famous for his Buffalo, constructed by a basic cut-out shape with a large humped body, small legs and a horned head.

Solo Exhibitions

1964 : Tengah Airport Club, Singapore.
1964-65 : National Library, Singapore Art Society, Singapore.
1966 : Ipoh Public Library, Malaysia.
1970-71 : Gallery Fine Art, Singapore.
1971 : National Library, Singapore.
1974-75 : National Library, Singapore Art Society, Singapore.
1975 : Raya Gallery, Melbourne, Australia.
1978 : Gallery Fine Art, Orchard Towers, Singapore.
1979 : Raya Gallery, Hyatt Hotel, Singapore.
1981 : Hyatt Hotel, Singapore.
1990 : Lone Pine Gallery, Ming Court Hotel (now Orchard Parade Hotel), Singapore.
1990 : Impression: The Art of Tay Bak Koi, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
2007 : Reminiscences of Tay Bak Koi, Stamford House, Singapore.

Group Exhibitions

1961-77 : Singapore Art Society Annual Exhibition, Singapore.
1963 : Salon De Mei, Penang, Malaysia.
1963 : 6th National Art Gallery Exhibition, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore.
1963 : Society of Chinese Artists Exhibition, Singapore.
1964 : Young Asian Artists, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
1964-65 : Modern Art Society Exhibition, Singapore.
1966 : Youth of Asia, Japan.
1967-81 : St Andrew’s Hospital Charity Show, Singapore.
1969 : Eden Hall Charity Show, Singapore.
1976 : Six Men, Tang Chou Art Gallery, Singapore.
1976 : Inaugural Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1976 : Colour, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1977 : Large Paintings, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1977 : Paintings and Sculptures, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.
1977 : Royal Overseas Art Exhibition, London, United Kingdom.
1977 : Preliminary Art Exhibition, Cologne, Germany.
1978 : Galloway Gallery, Brisbane, Australia.
1979 : Singapore Art Exhibition, Bahrain, Dubai and Kuwait.
1980 : Three International Artists, Galloway Gallery, Brisbane, Australia.
1980 : Singapore Art Exhibition, Tel Aviv, Israel.
1981 : Hong Kong Arts Festival, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong.
1989 : Twenty Singapore Artists for New York Art Expo, Jacob K. Javits Convention Centre, New York, United States.
1989 : 1st Bru-Sin Art Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Negara Brunei Darussalam.
1990 : 2nd Bru-Sin Art Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1993 : Singapore Artist Directory Exhibition, Empress Place Museum, Singapore.
1994 : Reminiscences of the South Seas: Two-Man Exhibition by Tay Bak Koi and Tew Nai Tong, Shenn’s Fine Art, Singapore.