Lot 014

b. China, 1908 – d. Penang, 1966

Chatting Under Banana Trees, undated

signed ‘若萍’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
58 x 48cm

Private collection, Sabah.

The Art of Khaw Sia & Kuo Juping (Pioneer Artists),
Dato’ Dr. Tan Chee Khuan, The Art Gallery Penang,
p. 262 (illustrated)

ESTIMATE RM 12,000 – 20,000

Before the advent of shopping malls and proliferation of motorized vehicles, it was common for prospective lovers of Malay origin to chat outside the stilt houses, usually under the cover of banana or coconut trees grown in abundance in the villages. Kuo Juping, nee Khor Seng Chye, was one of the first artists to have broken through racial barriers in depicting not only Chinese but also Indians and Malays, although in stereotyped occupations. In an extract from an interview by Datin Ivy Lee with Rosyln Yip, Kuo’s daughter living in Sydney (The Art of Khaw Sia & Kuo Juping, Dato’ Dr. Tan Chee Khuan, The Art Gallery, Penang, 2014, p. 248-249), Yip, herself a London-trained artist, said: “He (Juping) was fond of sketching kampung scenes, Nature, town life, ordinary people at work or play or eating, and also, street hawkers.”

Kuo Juping was in the pioneering batch of students at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Art in Singapore but had to return to help out his father’s import-export (rattan, cloves and nutmegs) business, Sin Guan Thye and Company, in Victoria Street. He was a founding member of the Penang Chinese Art Club and the Thursday Art Group, and was a mentor of Tan Choon Ghee (1930-2010), who later became a legend in watercolours. Kuo died of a stroke in March 1966 at the age of 58.