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Lot 024

b. Kedah, 1939


Signed 'SUI HOE' lower right
Oil on canvas
76cm x 76cm

Private collection, Penang.

ESTIMATE  RM 15,000 - 22,000

‘In the mountains, there you feel free’, read a line in T.S. Eliot’s classic poem The Wasteland. This work captures the spirit of the rarefied beauty and invigorating air up in Cameron Highlands then. Khoo Sui Hoe who was then based partly in Cameron Highlands, had been inspired to do a series of landscapes but rarely with figures. The figures with a sculptural sensuality resemble pagan mountain spirits. The bluish hues set the dreamy mood and a slow-tempo dance routine, lulling the viewing into similar cadences. This work is similar to The Rock Dance, which is exhibited and sold in the United States before Khoo Sui Hoe migrated there, first to Houston, Texas, and then settling at Little Rock, Arkansas.

Khoo Sui Hoe is a cult hero in Malaysian art folklore for being one of the earliest who dared to become a full-time artist at a time of a nascent nationhood. He has also helped promote art and other artists first through his Alpha Singapore Gallery, which he set up with a group of artists in 1972, and then singly, the Alpha Utara Gallery in Penang in 2004. He is the spiritual leader of the Utara Group of artists in 1977. After graduating from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Art, Singapore in 1961, he studied at Pratt Institute in New York in 1977. He won First Prize (Oil category) in the 1965 Malaysian art competition and an Honourable Mention in the Salon Malaysia 1969. His other awards included twice winning the Asian Arts Now Awards given by the Las Vegas Museum in the United States in 2002 and 2004. He divides his time between the United States and Malaysia, mainly in Penang.

The Painted World of Khoo Sui Hoe, Khoo Sui Hoe Retrospective, Penang State Art Gallery, 2007.