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Lot 032

b. Penang, 1929

UNTITLED, c.1950s

Signed ‘LJFOR’ lower right
Oil on board
75.5cm x 121cm

Private collection, Penang.

ESTIMATE  RM 8,000 - 12,000

A Malayan mosaic of nine panels with the acrobatic stunts of a lion dance in the centre, signifying the ascendency of a then young Malaya in the flush of Independence. It incorporates many elements – economic activity, an agrarian base with tractors and fishing trap, the tin-mining dredges and a mosque signifying Islam as the official religion. The man with woman and child is self referential, of a baby born with uncertain hopes and future, yet the excitement of a multicultural society in flux is obvious. This work was done before the artist provocateur cum playwright John Lee Joo For migrated to Australia in 1973 where his works are now orientated towards religion with his devotion to the Christian Catholic faith.

Lee Joo For was awarded a Malayan Government scholarship to study at the Brighton College of Art, England in 1959. He furthered his studies at the Camberwell School of Art, London in 1962, and at the Royal College of Art, London in 1963 where his fellow students included David Hockney. On his return, he taught at the St Xavier’s Institution in 1948. He is famous for original plays such as The Flood, Son of Zen, and his best-known play in Australia is The Call of Guadalupe. He was given a Retrospective by The Art Gallery, Penang in 1995. In 2008, the Penang State Art Gallery honoured him with a major Retrospective. He also won the Best Playwright of the Year (Malaysian Drama Festival) titles from 1969 to 1971, and Best Radio Playwright (Singapore) in 1969.

Lee Joo For Retrospective, Cover essay by Ooi Kok Chuen, The Penang State Art Gallery, 2008.
My Name Is Fire: The Art of Lee Joo For, The Art Gallery, 1999.
A Tribute to Lee Joo For, Art Salon@SENI, 2009.