Lot 007

b. Sarawak, 1896 - d. Penang, 1962


Signed and dated 'MUNSEN 48' (lower left)
Watercolour on paper
27cm x 37cm

Private collection, Kuala Lumpur.

ESTIMATE RM 8,000 - 12,000

It's to be expected that a 1940s watercolour work by Yong Mun Sen invariably deals with the Malay kampung topography of attap huts and towering coconut trees. Here, the solitary hut in the middle of what looks like a padi-field seems guarded by the towering trees, and a sense of equilibrium or peace is achieved by the bright azure skies with a cottonwool of clouds against the water reflection in the foreground.

Yong Mun Sen is often referred to as the Father of Malaysian Painting, which also forms the core argument of publisher-writer-dealer-artist Dato Dr Tan Chee Khuan’s book. Born Yong Yen Lang, Mun Sen returned to China briefly (1914) before picking up art on his return to his hometown Sarawak. He had stints in Singapore before settling in Penang (1922), where he set up a photography studio cum gallery. He was also an activist, co-founding the Penang Chinese Art Club (1935) among others. His struggles as an artist are one of the most colourful in art folklore. He was accorded posthumous memorials by the National Art Gallery (Kuala Lumpur) and the Penang State Art Gallery in 1972, and the PSAG followed it up with a retrospective in 1999.

Yong Mun Sen, by Father Joseph McNally
Yong Mun Sen Retrospective, Penang State Art Gallery, 1999
Pioneers of Malaysian Art, The Art Gallery Penang 1994