Joseph Tan was born in Penang, 1941, he was a graduate from University of Sydney (Faculty of Architecture), Australia in 1962, he recieved his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art from the Sydney National School of Art in 1996, and later his Masters in Fine Art from the Chicago Art Institute of the United State of America in 1972.

He is one of the respected figures in Malaysian art as a prolific painter, working contextually on the bases of optical theory and data, with the style of pop, minimal and semi-abstract work while also  a well respected educator for a certain period under MARA Institute of Technology.  He often emphasize on art that involves intellectual and mysticism, alongside the metaphysical,  ideas beyond the boundaries of painting. Joseph Tan passed away in 2001 in the state of Pahang.