CHUAH THEAN TENG, DATO'
b. China, 1912 - d. Penang, 2008
SATAY SELLER, c. early 1970s
Signed ‘Teng’ lower left
56cm x 42cm
Private collection, Kuala Lumpur; acquired directly from the artist.
ESTIMATE RM 35,000 - 50,000
PRICE REALISED RM 52,800
This work was done at the old Yahong premises at the junction of Leith Street and Chulia Street before Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng moved to the present premise in Batu Ferringhi in 1994. The satay seller is framed by the arch of his itinerant carrier, the fan on his right hand fanning the flames cooking the seven satay sticks over the hotburning charcoal stove. Ketupat rice-cakes are tied up in a bunch on the top left while a woman balancing a covered tray on her head walks towards him on the right. Satay is a favourite Malaysian dish with the skewered marinated meat grilled and served with peanut sauce, rice-cakes, sliced cucumber and onions. Other artists who have featured the satay seller include Lee Man Fong, Cheong Soo Pieng and Latiff Mohidin. This one of a kind piece not only tells the Southeast Asian way of life, the intriguing rarity of its theme makes this an exceptionally striking piece.
Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng is the world-acknowledged Father of Batik Painting, especially after his break-through exhibition in 1955. He is undisputedly an internationally recognised artist after his successful first exhibition abroad at the Commonwealth Institute in England in 1959. His paintings, Two Of A Kind (1968) and Tell You A Secret (1987), took on iconic status when they were selected for UNICEF greeting cards. Teng first studied at Xiamen (Amoy) Art Institute in China but could not complete due to ill health. He was the first Malaysian to be honoured with a retrospective by the National Art Gallery (NAG) in 1965, and his next was by the Penang State Art Gallery in 1994. The Penang State Government awarded him Datoship in 1998 and the Live Heritage Award in 2005. In 2008, the NAG again offered recognition to Teng, this time billing it a tribute exhibition. His major works are on show at his Yahong Art Gallery in Batu Ferrringhi in Penang, which is a veritable museum of his art. Yahong also showcases the works of Teng’s three sons and two grandsons who have all followed his creative footsteps.
Chuah Thean Teng Retrospective, Penang Museum and Art Gallery, 1994.
Teng Batik, Yahong Gallery, Penang, 1968.
Teng: An Appreciation, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 2009.