CHUAH THEAN TENG, DATO'
b. China, 1912 - 2008
FRUIT SEASON, c. 1970s
Signed 'Teng' (lower left)
85cm x 58.5cm
Private collection, Denmark.
PINKGUY Conservation Framing for this Lot.
ESTIMATE RM 30,000 - 55,000
|When the old Malaya depended on an agrarian economy in the flush of Independence, the women folk were industriously helping out in driving the nation, the Malays working in the markets, padi fields and beaches when the fishermen took back their catch from the sea, the Chinese in the tin mines and sundry shops, and the Indians in the rubber estates and cattle industry. Dato Chuah Thean Teng’s oeuvre in batik,which he was credited to have innovated as a bona-fide world movement (by Professor Michael Sullivan), captures the zeitgeist of a new nation, Malaysia, in transition towards a modern society. By showing the local women then at play and at work, and doing what they do best, raising children (showing cute, cherubic babies, symbolising the new generation), Teng, as Dato Chuah is more fondly known as, has shifted the gaze to women, as no other artists before and after have done. Whether picking fruits, tending to the cows, threshing padi, tapping rubber, the women are always, always shown doing it with ease and without whining.
Teng is a legend, the only Malaysian artist credited not only as a pioneer but the progenitor, of a world art genre, Batik Painting. He developed it in 1953, and held the first solo of his batik art at the Arts Council in Penang in 1955. He was arguably the first Malaysian to have an exhibition abroad, at the Commonwealth Institute, London, in 1959, and the only Malaysian among great world artists to be invited, to take part in the Commonwealth Artists of Fame exhibition in London, to mark the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1977. The images of his paintings, Two of A Kind (1968) and Tell You A Secret (1987), became iconic when used as Unicef greeting cards. He was the first Malaysian artist (after British-born Peter Harris) to be given a Retrospective by the National Art Gallery (NAG), and his next Retrospective was in 1994 by the Penang State Government, which also honoured him with its highest award, a ‘Datoship’ in 1998 and the ‘Live Heritage Award’ in 2005. The NAG honoured Teng again in 2008 with a Tribute exhibition – the only two artists to get a national ‘Retrospective’ and ‘Tribute,’ the other being Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal. His Yahong Gallery in Batu Ferringhi, Penang, is a veritable museum of his finest works in various forms, and it also showcases the works of his three sons and two grandchildren.
Chuah Thean Teng, Retrospective, Penang Museum and Art Gallery, 1994
Teng Batik, Yahong Gallery, Penang, 1968
Teng:An Appreciation, National Art Gallery, 2009