CHENG THAK, LUI
b. Negeri Sembilan, 1967
Signed and dated 'Cheng Thak Lui 09' lower left
Oil on canvas
114cm x 84.6cm
Private collection, Kuala Lumpur
ESTIMATE RM 8,000 - 13,000
PRICE REALISED RM 19,800
“Painting old buildings and how men live their lives around them give me the opportunity to ‘capture’ time, though it may be for a glimpse of it and incomplete.”
~ Cheng Thak Lui
This artwork sums up Cheng Thak’s mission in enlivening old architectural abodes which are often embellished with stuccos, ornate carvings and designs. This is true of the Peranakan houses with its Straits Eclectic Baroque combining garish Chinese mythical elements like the ashes-to-rebirth phoenix or firebird for luck and a symbol of immortality. Western architectural decorations are added as a status symbol. This particular scene is modified from one such facade in Jonker Street in Malacca. An ornate birdcage on one side of the opened louvred window frame with a nice kamcheng (nyonya porcelain jar) placed on the sill to show-off. The stuccoed panels show images of elephants and cranes. The facades hark nostalgically to the bygone Pre-War days but Cheng Thak makes subtle inferences on the changes made through modern living and the economic lot of the new occupants, more likely tenants, with the weather-beaten windows, flaked paint and chipped edges.
Cheng Thak has been a fulltime artist ever since he graduated from Kuala Lumpur College of Art in 1989. His forte is with extolling the architectural heritage as livable abodes and in his own inimitable style of lush grandeur and romance. He also paints about the disappearing trades such as the itinerant roti man or pasembur hawker. He held his first solo called As I Was Passing at Hotel Istana, Kuala Lumpur in 1997 and his most recent, Reborn, was held at the PinkGuy Gallery last August. His works are held in the collection of prestigious corporations, hotels and private collectors.