Image: Nuwa, Art: Danny Raven Tan
Many of us wear multiple hats these days in all areas of our lives. Danny Raven Tan is a Singaporean artist who in this way - is very similar to the rest of us. However, his dedication to follow his artistic calling in the face of adversity, and ability to find innovative solutions is much rarer.
As a young boy he had a talent and love of art, however he opted for a more financially stable career in property development with public listed companies such as Ho Bee Investment Limited and Koh Brothers Development. A dilemma so many young artists face early in their careers - and understandably many inevitably choose to 'park the art' until they have gained financial independence.
Danny then moved into marketing for Singapore Tourism Board and BanyanTree Hotels and Resorts before returning to the arms of the arts. In 2009, 2nd January, he walked into a little black box at McNally Street better known as LASALLE College of the Arts, and spent 6 years involved in marketing the college in Singapore and overseas.
He was getting closer to following his dream of being an artist, but hadn't got there yet.
Then in 2010, life threw Danny a curve ball. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His life changed without his permission in a drastic way and here is why Danny is such a remarkable person in my eyes. Not only did Danny catch the curve ball - he hurled it back. His life-changing diagnosis motivated Danny to seriously think about his passion for art.
This resilient man was then faced with two more life-changing events; Danny's father passed away in 2015 and Danny's mother was diagnosed with dementia.
And what did Danny do? He kept painting and decided to embark on a career as a full time artist so that he has more flexibility with time to care for his mother. Danny converted his HDB apartment into a home studio and The Tiffin Gallery where he can be artist / son / and carer all in one day.
Image: Nuwa, Art: Danny Raven Tan, artwork from The Lotus Series in memory of his father, Mr Tan Kee Leong.
The Tiffin Gallery has managed to combine the warmth of a home with the professional finish of a gallery. They have invested in gallery-grade lighting and wall hanging systems and regularly welcome art collectors and visitors into their home for private viewings, and as part of public art programmes like the 'Open Homes' project commissioned by the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) 2017.
Image: Nuwa, Danny & his mother, Madam Thian Chin Ngoh
Danny is largely a conceptual painter with impressionistic style using acrylic and mixed media. Much of his work is inspired by the myth of celebrity and icon and his artistic commentary on the values that society places on celebrities, and popular culture and brands. The 'Undead' series of paintings are Danny's responses on how brands, iconic movies, or celebrities 'live' forever. One can imagine that there would be several events in Danny's life that led him to question what is it that will endure beyond each of 'us'.
Photo: Nuwa Art: Danny Raven Tan: The God's Are Crying
The Tiffin Gallery has managed to combine the warmth of a home with the professional finish of a gallery. They have invested in gallery-grade lighting and wall hanging systems and regularly welcome art collectors and visitors into their home for private viewings.
I think that an important factor in the success of Danny's home gallery has been Danny - he is a people-person. He is an artist that wants to enter into a conversation with his audience - and he welcomes you into his studio and gallery space. I can imagine that a home-gallery without such a host, might not fair so well.
In August 2017, Danny took part in SIFA's 'Open Homes' project where he gave a talk called 'Mommy Not At Home'.
"Have you kissed mommy goodnight tonight? This heartwarming session brings you to the home of Danny, his Peranakan mother and their dog. In a home filled with paints and artwork that Danny has created over the years, Danny shares his journey of caring for his mother, a dementia patient." SIFA Open Homes
"...hosted by a young painter, Danny Raven Tan, who lives with and cares for his mother, who has dementia. His mother was present for some of the performances, lending a heartbreaking air to the piece’s title: Mummy Not at Home....
....For many in the audience at Mummy Not at Home, Jeffrey Tan tells me, Danny’s story rung true. “At the end of the performance quite a few audience members very quietly snuck up to him to give him a hug and said, ‘Thank you – this, I’m going through this too. This means a lot.’”
Galleries serve to put art on a pedestal and present works of art in a manner that connects the audience and art in a meaningful way – The Tiffin Gallery have certainly achieved this with Danny’s work.
Artist Danny Raven Tan and Tiffin Gallery Manager James Tay will be speaking about how they set up the Tiffin Gallery and what unique benefits and challenges it presents as a home-studio-gallery at Nuwa's 'ArtWork event on November 11th 2017.