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Lot 014

KUO JUPING
b. China, 1908 - d. Penang, 1966

MY NEIGHBOUR, undated

Oil on canvas
69cm x 47cm

PROVENANCE
Private collection, Selangor.

LITERATURE
Kuo Juping Memorial Exhibition
(Dato’ Dr. Tan Chee Khuan, Penang State Art Gallery, 1997)
The Art of Khaw Sia and Kuo Juping
(Dato’ Dr. Tan Chee Khuan, The Art Gallery, Penang, 2014)

ESTIMATE RM 16,000 - 30,000
This must have been Presgrave Street, the street where Kuo Juping lived in Penang. The houses then had a big front-yard or compound which could be partitioned to create smaller cubicles to rent out. This place which Kuo Juping said was his neighbour’s looks cluttered although the high gateway, like that reserved for a temple precinct, was imposing for the time. On one side was stacked several long planks, indicating that the owner could have been in the sawn-wood business. Freely roving chicken were raised either to supplement the income or to help sustain a large family. On the left is shown the front marque of a parked Morris Minor, indicating that the house occupant was someone well-to-do. It’s not known how Kuo Juping’s own house looked like, although his import-export business, Sin Guan Thye Co. was located nearby, in Victoria Street.

Kuo Juping (the name was taken after a water plant) was in the pioneering batch of students at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Art (NAFA) in Singapore but had to return a year before graduating to tend to his father’s import-export business, Sing Guan Thye & Co. He was a founding member of Thursday Art Group and Penang Chinese Art Club in 1936. He was one of the first artists to paint the ordinary people and places such as rubber estates, oil palms / cocoa plantations, padi-fields, kampung and make-shift hawker centres. He was a mentor of Tan Choon Ghee (1930-2010) who became a legendary watercolourist. Kuo died of a stroke in March 1966 at the age of 58.