Ian Tee’s practice is concerned with abstraction as a social space. For him, it is a method of thinking about formal qualities and its relationship with various cultural contexts. He works across a range of materials such as collage, aluminum, and textiles. The different bodies of work all take the history of painting as a point of reference. This could be collapsing quilting and geometric abstraction in the Fire Blanket series; or combining the sensibilities of gestural painting and comic book aesthetics in the Moby Dick works. The goal is to propose new ways of understanding aesthetic narratives and the field of painting. It has to do with the experience of seeing as well as how we “read” a painting.
The notion of youth is another aspect of Tee’s practice, particularly in relation to themes of rebellion, vulnerability, and identity. They manifest in the energy and visual language of youth subcultures, that appear across his body of work. The attitude carried is a statement about power, defiance, and possibility. This interest in youth has also taken form in his curatorial project ‘We’re Young Once’ (2022), a group exhibition that gathers key early works by Singapore artists across generation. It is premised around the experience of being a young artist at different points of time, and considers a non-hierarchical mode of framing Singapore art history.
Tee graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore in 2018. His work has been exhibited in exhibitions across Singapore, Sydney, Jakarta and Tianjin, such as at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Grey Projects, and The Private Museum. He was a recipient of the Ngee Ann Kongsi scholarship and winner of the 2017 Cliftons Art Prize for Singapore. Recently, he received an Honourable Mention at the 2023 IMPART Awards, in recognition for his curatorial project ‘We’re Young Once’ (2022). In addition to his studio practice, Tee is also Associate Editor at Art & Market (A&M). A&M is a online journalistic platform focused on modern and contemporary art from the vantage point of Southeast Asia.
Tee is represented by Yavuz Gallery.