"Painting is first of all, a way of seeing." - Namiko Chan Takahashi
Namiko is one of a select few Singaporean artists to have trained at the prestigious Art Students League of New York (1999-2002). During her 3 years at the atelier (alma mater of luminaries such as Jackson Pollock and Georgia O’Keefe), she studied under several prominent portrait artists including Harvey Dinnerstein and Mary Beth McKenzie. She also studied under various accomplished print makers and lyrical abstractionists.
A distinguished alumna of the Ministry of Education’s Art Elective Programme, Chan has been painting since she was 6 years old. While undergoing her law degree course at the National University of Singapore, she continued to pursue painting and participated in several art shows, winning accolades at the 1998 ASEAN Art Awards and the UOB Painting of the Year Awards in the same year. In 2001, and while still based in New York, Chan held her first solo exhibition 'My Life as an Artist' at the newly-opened Art Seasons Gallery in Singapore, featuring 30 abstracts and landscapes. She followed this with her second solo Friends/ Phases at the NIE gallery in 2003, a highly regarded show that was introduced by Dr. Lutz Presser, Head of Visual and Performing Arts at NIE. Since then, Namiko has gone on to complete an M.A. (Contemporary Practice) at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Art, Singapore.
“[A] truly powerful work… with a masterly handling of colour, composition and tone... taking the representational work to a certain conceptual and spiritual height."
- judging panel of the UOB Painting of the Year Awards 2006
Over time Chan has developed a distinct style in her work. She can be described as a contemporary realist specialising in portraiture, especially nudes. She uses traditional techniques of painting and works mainly with oil on linen. The themes she grapples with are both universal and relevant to the contemporary era, such as the human condition and the challenges faced in the modern age by women.
In her second attempt, Chan won the 2006 UOB Painting of the Year award with a nude portrait entitled “Charisse”. The panel of international judges including Mr. Kwok Kian Chow, (Director of the Singapore Museum), Ms Bridget Tan (Director of the NAFA Gallery), and Mr James McCalman (Managing Director of the Sotheby’s Institute of Art), unanimously selected this work as the grand prize winner out of 1,400 submissions by nearly 1,000 established and emerging artists. Of her winning piece, the judges were extremely impressed. They noted that the painting was “a truly powerful work… with a masterly handling of colour, composition and tone”. The judges also noted that Chan had introduced certain techniques by which the “strong characterisation of the figure…[was] enhanced… taking the representational work to a certain conceptual and spiritual height”.
Namiko's paintings are in private and public collections in Singapore and elsewhere, including the Istana and the National Gallery of Singapore.