Tan earned his B.F.A. in Sculpture from Luxun Academy of Fine Arts, Shenyang, China and M.F.A. in Sculpture from Savannah College of Art and Design. He lives and works in New York City. Tan previously worked at ID3 Group as Sculpture Studio Manager, and also worked as a Q Studio Clay Modeler at Ford Motor Company. The various working experiences have exposed him to a variety of materials for art and industrial fabrication, which led to his usage of media such as spray paint in his paintings and sculptures.
Tan’s work utilizes tangible media and forms to explore tensions between two coexisting but “opposing” spaces. The idea is derived from both Tan’s cultural and academic background. Tan was raised in Liaoning Province, Northeast China, which is famous for its coal mining industry. Tan’s experience growing up, including childhood memories of a deceased parent’s spirit, made him aware of the imaginative space that co-exists, intertwines, and sometimes conflicts with the physical space he occupies. His practice as a sculptor further deepened his understanding of these two spaces, which the artist describes as a virtual, “nihilistic space” that transforms into the visible—the physical and concrete form that arises during the process of making molds. Through this experience, Tan found that the ensemble of tangible forms bore a vivid resemblance to the abstract relationships between virtual and physical spaces or, in a broader sense, between two confrontational forces.