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Idris Ali

b. 1944, Singapore

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Known for his watercolour landscapes and street scenes, Idris Mohamed Ali’s works reveal a strong understanding of colour, depth and realism. His paintings of old Singapore are especially important as they serve as a visual documentation of our national heritage.

Started painting at 10 and not being able to afford formal art training, Idris learnt from books, observation, practice and a brief tutelage under pioneer Malay artist, S. Mahdar. In 1962, at the age of 18, this self-taught artist had his first group exhibition at the Singapore Victoria Memoral Hall.

With a natural gift for drawing, Idris embarked on a career in the advertising industry for 20 years. A member of APAD (Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya) since the 60s, he was their art teacher for young children from 1964 to the 80s. He also taught art at various secondary schools.

Idris’ works have been shown at the Singapore National Museum and various exhibitions in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. A residency in Bali with Maya Gallery in 2012 kicked off his new series of Balinese scenes. In 1999, he had his first solo show. His second solo exhibition – commemorating five decades of painting – was organised by, and held at Maya Gallery in 2013.

His paintings can be found in the collections of the National Heritage Board, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry for Defence, several dignitaries in Singapore and Malaysia, and many private individuals. Idris received the 'Pingat APAD' (APAD Award) by the Association of Artists with Various Resources (APAD) in 1974. He was also awarded the 'Cipta Mekar' or Creative Award for outstanding work at the 'Action '90' Art Exhibition by APAD in 1990.


Solo Exhibition

2017   Khazanah (Treasure), Maya Gallery
2013   Singapura Chantek: 5 Decades of Painting Singapore, Maya Gallery
1999   Water Strokes of Idris, organised by APAD, Singapore Calligraphic Centre

Group Exhibitions

2018   Liquid Light, Maya Gallery
2017   Soul Vistas, duo exhibition with Jeffrey Wandly, The Fullerton Hotel
2016   Art Auction, LBKM 50th Anniversary Charity Dinner, Mandarin Orchard Hotel
          Singapore Art Society Annual Exhibition, Ngee Ann Cultural Centre
          Contemporary 2016, APAD's Art Exhibition, Visual Art Centre
          Affordable Art Fair Singapore (Autumn), with Maya Gallery
2015   Affordable Art Fair Singapore (Spring), with Maya Gallery
          Idyllic Landscapes, Maya Gallery
2014   Singapore Art Week 2014: An Exhibition by APAD, Aliwal Art Centre
          Singapore Heritage Collection, Maya Gallery
          Büffel Art Project, with Maya Gallery, Exhibition & Auction, ION Gallery
          Contemporary 2014, APAD's Art Exhibition, National Library Gallery
2013   Our Pioneer Artists, organised by APAD, Singapore Calligraphy Centre
          Collective Asia, Asia Contemporary Art Fair, Luxe Art Museum
          éncore! (Maya Gallery's 1st Anniversary), Maya Gallery
          Moving On APAD Exhibition, The Substation
          From the Heart, with Maya Gallery, Bali ACT, Artomorrow Artspace, Bali

2012   From the Heart, Maya Gallery Opening Exhibition
          Celebrate Heritage, Maya Gallery
          Charity Art Auction, LCCS 10th Anniversary, Ritz-Carlton
          The Journey, Maya Gallery
          Ridzwan Dzafir Scholarship Art Auction, MENDAKI 30th Anniversary, Shangri-La
2011   Contemporary 2011, APAD's Art Exhibition, National Library Gallery


Pingat APAD Award, Singapore, 1974.
Cipta Mekar Award for outstanding work at 'Action '90' Art Exhibition, 1990.

“The Mango Tree’, a children’s book published by Helang Books in 2013, written by Hidayah Amin, and illustrated by Idris Ali, is the winner of the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Award 2015. It is also the Grand Prize Winner of the Samsung KidsTime Author’s Award 2015, and was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize 2014 (English non-fiction).

Idris Ali was one of the 3 illustrators for “Birds of the Istana”, published by Suntree Media and Singapore Environment Council in 2005, for The Istana.


Family portraits, 2012-16.
Portrait painting of former President of Singapore Wee Kim Wee & First Lady for Jamiyah, 1995.
Painting of Myths and Legends for Singapore National Museum, 1998.
Mural painting of Kolam Ayer for Assoc. Prof. Dr Ya'acob Ibrahim, then Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, and MP for Jalan Besar GRC, 1998.


National Heritage Board
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SIngapore (MFA)
Ministry of Defence, Singapore
Ministry of Community Development, SIngapore
Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts (MICA)
Mr Yatiman Yusof, then Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr Zulkifli Mohamed, then Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Information and the Arts
Datuk Seri A. Rahim Tamby Chik, then Chief Minister of Malacca
Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah, SIngapore

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