LEE CHENG YONG
b. China, 1913 - d. Penang, 1974
Signed 'CY' (lower right)
Oil on board
54cm x 42cm
Private Collection, Penang.
Lee Cheng Yong Retrospective, Penang State Art Gallery, 1996; illustrated on exhibition catalogue page 26.
ESTIMATE RM 20,000 - 30,000
PRICE REALISED RM 61,600
Waiting depicts a bare-chested woman wearing a blue sarong with floral motif seated patiently in anticipation. In the background, there are two other women, one is seen breastfeeding a child clad in a green sarong while another woman on the left - dressed in a purple and brown striped sarong - has her back facing the viewer.
Lee Cheng Yong’s Primitivism-inspired paintings have set him apart from the other painters of his time. The following excerpt is an anonymous review for his solo exhibition at Chin Kang Association, Macalister Road, Penang from a local Chinese newspaper clipping dated 29 December 1960:
“Today Lee Cheng Yong has stood up and given confidence to our people. His art is full of natural beauty. That is his strength. In his works there is no fixed style… His lines are natural. He shows things in depth. They are alive, and that is what makes him different from the others. Lee Cheng Yong has achieved masterpieces not only in his figurative paintings, but also in his more imaginative works. Yet he is still humble and willing to learn more. He hopes to be able to achieve one day a synthesis of all his styles.”
Lee Cheng Yong studied at Xin Hua Art Academy (later known as the Shanghai Academy of Fine Art) in 1927 and held his first solo exhibition at the Philomatic Union in Acheen Street, Penang in 1932 while his next was in 1960 at the Chin Kang Association in Macalister Road in Penang. He formed the Penang Chinese Art Club in 1935 and was elected its first president. He was honoured with the Lee Cheng Yong Memorial exhibition by the Penang State Art Gallery in 1996. Although Lee Cheng Yong left copious works on various subjects in various media indicating his versatility, he was also known as a dedicated art teacher at the Chung Ling High School. He fostered generations of star students such as Chong Hon Fatt and Chai Chuan Jin. He was prodigious mostly in oils, with works in the Post-Impressionist mould. Besides paintings, he had also done sculptures and murals. His works are collected in among others, the Fukuoka Art Museum and the Singapore Art Museum.
Lee Cheng Yong Retrospective Exhibition , The Art Gallery, 1996.
Eight Pioneers of Malaysian Art (With Supplement on Peter Harris) , Dato’ Dr. Tan Chee Khuan, Penang State Art Gallery, 2013.