Malu Tan, born in Manila, Philippines, in 1964, is an abstract and narrative artist who strongly identifies with nature. In her late forties, she received a Certificate in Painting from the Art Academy in London. Her works have been displayed in various museums and galleries, such as the Marin Museum in CA, Katonah Museum in NY, Ayala Museum in Manila, On Center Gallery in MA, Monika Olko Gallery in NY, Faber Birren in CT, and the Philippine Consulate in New York. She has received the Artist Support Grant and the Creative Renewal Fellowship in North Carolina. Her art is a permanent part of the Yale New Haven Medical Center and Cartus Corporation collection in CT. Malu Tan currently resides and creates art in Charlotte, NC.
In her artist statement, Malu Tan explains that her colorful and gestural paintings aim to express a sense of place and her place within it. She portrays the scale of nature relative to individual bodies, which can evoke a feeling of joy when in balance. However, she acknowledges that nature is not always in harmony, and her art also reflects this reality.
One of her series, "When Nature Takes Back," depicts a future in which plants engulf a wind turbine, a forest fire rages just outside a home, and water floods a living room. The collection challenges the human tendency to control nature. It features large oil paintings that depict haunting and poignant scenes in bold colors, emphasizing the beauty of nature, regardless of adversities. Malu Tan's work implicates humans not only as an intruder to nature but also as invasive species.
Another series, "Color Collages," takes the form of organic abstractions tethered to geometric grids made of dots and lines. The paintings represent imaginary locations that Malu Tan created and internalized after having difficulty moving to new places. She uses abstract spaces to find comfort amidst feelings of loss. The pieces are not actual collages but are unplanned drawings and paintings where a graphite scribble or brushstroke suggests what is to come. The paintings are modest in scale, intimate, and fresh, capturing impromptu visions brought to life.
My brightly colored and gestural paintings express the desire to articulate place and find
myself within it.