Ian de Souza: Clear Light

Ian de Souza: Clear Light

Exhibition Information

Opening Day10 October 2019, Thursday
Guest of HonourH.E. Bruce Gosper, High Commissioner, Australian High Commission Singapore
Period10 October - 8 December 2019
Location 51 Waterloo,

The Private Museum (TPM) Singapore is delighted to present Clear Light by Australian artist, Ian de Souza. The exhibition marks the artist’s debut showcase in Singapore after more than four decades of practising art.

Born in 1939 in then Malaya, de Souza grew up in a period of turbulence. He spent his early years in Singapore and Malaysia under colonial British and Japanese rule before moving to New South Wales, Australia at the age of 16. Between the 1960s-70s, the artist toured the world as a musician, performing alongside pop icons such as the Bee Gees, before becoming a full-time artist in 1980.

Clear Light is a response from the artist to his lifelong pursuit of passion, knowledge and technical mastery, and the realisation that comes from years of thoughtful introspection. In this homecoming exhibition, visitors will get to experience de Souza’s latest series of paintings – which explore the artist’s contemplations on life as well as a revisit of his Eastern heritage, spirituality, and harmony.

Programme Documentation

Programme Media

About the Collaboration


Artist Ian de Souza,

Ian DE SOUZA (b. 1939, Malaya)’s arts practice spans more than 35 years. He is experienced in all mediums, with water-based colours and inks being his preference. Ian’s most recent works involve a process of bleeding inks through layers of rice paper, and were inspired by his recent travels to India, China and South East Asia. In these works, Ian is seeking fundamental and ethereal images of the human form through the discovery of ‘accidental’ strokes. His many years of classical training as an artist, focusing on the human form, enable him to achieve this. Yet in many ways, these works mark a departure from his previous works, in that they derive from the classical techniques of Chinese calligraphy and painting, yet remain thoroughly contemporary.

Born in Muar, West Malaysia in 1939, to Eurasian parents – his Indian Portuguese father was born in Goa and his Chinese–Portuguese mother came from Macau – Ian lived in Malaya and Singapore under both Japanese occupation and British colonial rule for the first 15 years of his life. He migrated to Australia aged 16 to join a minor seminary college in NSW where he studied to be a Redemptorist missionary priest. During those four years he painted for the Church, creating massive sacred images for religious ceremonies. He left the seminary aged 20 and went on to study art at Perth Technical College, and then travelled widely, painting and performing as a musician all over the world for a large part of his life.

He lived in the South of France for ten years (1970 – 1980) before settling in Fremantle in Western Australia in 1981. Here he began to focus intensively on his painting, drawing upon both Western and Asian traditions of art. He remains particularly inspired by the seminal philosophic and spiritual writings of Joseph Campbell. His residence in Fremantle is a work of art in itself; its unique indoor and outdoor living space was the subject of the 2006 American documentary film, World’s Most Extreme Homes, which continues to be screened at regular intervals on the Discovery Channel and the House and Garden Channel (USA). This remarkable home has also featured frequently on ABCTV Australia. He and his wife recently purchased a small apartment in Lodeve, a medieval city in France where they visit for three months each year. Following his successful exhibition in Lodeve in 2009, he has been invited to show in Paris 2011.

Winner of a number of awards, Ian de Souza’s work is represented in private and corporate collections worldwide.

Programme Outreach

The Private Museum Artist Talk Series

Saturday, 12 October 2019 2 PM @ The Private Museum

Artist Ian de Souza will discuss the wide-ranging inspiration behind his latest body of work: they include Classical painting and Chinese ink painting techniques; his upbringing in colonial Singapore; religious and philosophic texts; his travels around the world; and even his time as a professional singer. Attendees will also gain insights into how the art-making process and motivations of the veteran artist evolved throughout the decades.

10 October – 8 December 2019 @ The Private Museum

The Private Museum (TPM) is hosting a series of life drawing, watercolour, charcoal, and ink painting workshops conducted by artist and educator Ian de Souza as an extension of our exhibition Ian de Souza: Clear Light.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019, 4 – 6 PM @ National University Singapore (NUS)

Programme Publication

The Clear Light exhibition publication features essays by Natalie Foo and Jan Teagle Kapetas.