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Lot 18


b. China, 1913 - d. Penang, 1984


Signed '西亚 K.SIA' with Chinese seal lower right
Watercolour on paper
50.5cm x 68cm

Collection of The Art Gallery, Penang.

ESTIMATE  RM 10,000 - 15,000
Khaw Sia’s still life paintings of crabs have many admirers in Malaysia and Singapore. It is an expression of the good life. A feast of crabs during Khaw Sia’s time was a reason for celebration of success, companionship or business networking, especially when downed with the inviting Chinese wine in the jar labelled with auspicious letterings. While the redness of the carapace of the crabs makes it worthwhile to crush the serrated shell to get at the succulent meat, Khaw Sia also shows one of the crabs with the underside, exhibiting a fascination by the structure, with five limbs on each side and with the triangular abdominal flap - the Achilles heel, as it were, to break up the crab. Chrysanthemums with its bright yellow and fragrance add to the expression auspiciousness. But of course, the beauty of the work is in Khaw Sia’s virtuosity of execution.

Born in Shanghai, Khaw Sia studied at Sin Hwa Academy and was privately trained by the great British watercolourist Sir Russell Flint in London in 1933. A member of the American Orchid Society, he is well known for his paintings of these flowers. His passion for orchids led him to travel extensively to Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia in search of new species for his garden and to capture their beauty on paper. His credentials were also boosted when his works were accepted in the prestigious Le Salon Paris in 1956, the 14th Summer Salon at Royal Institute Galleries in London in 1957, and the 25th National Society Exhibition in London in 1958.  He moved from China to settle in Penang in 1937 and held his first solo exhibition in Penang in 1955. In 1998, the Penang State Art Gallery honoured him with a posthumous retrospective.

Penang Artists 1920s-1990s, Dr. Tan Chee Khuan, The Art Gallery, Penang, editions 1990 and 1992.
Pioneers of Malaysian Art, Dr. Tan Chee Khuan, The Art Gallery, Penang,1994.