CHIA YU CHIAN
b. Johor, 1936 - d. Kuala Lumpur, 1991
STILL LIFE WITH LEMONS, 1951 -1976
Signed and dated ‘Yu Chian 1951-1976’ lower right
Oil on board
22cm x 48cm
Private collection, Penang; gift from the artist.
Treasury of Malaysian Art and International Art, Dr Tan Chee Khuan, The Art Gallery, 1999; illustrated on page 82.
ESTIMATE RM 7,000 - 9,000
PRICE REALISED RM 35,200
This still life of lemons was reworked after a lapse of 25 years with the benefit of hindsight probably contributed to the bolder, more modern style of accentuating the forms of the lemons, while making the background into a whirling abstract depiction of unidentifiable objects. While the strokes seem to revolve around the outlines of the lemons, the gestural lunges of impastos make the fruits look as if they are floating in the air. The placement of the two with deeper shadows against the lone one on the right may also carry more meaning than just a play of light. Yu Chian might have the Edouard Manet 1880 model of The Lemon (Musee d’Orsay, Paris) as his re-entry point. The hard board surface also acted as a more obdurate resistance to the brushstrokes. The A Singaporean art critic, Bridget Tracey Tan wrote on Yu Chian’s art: “There was no aping Western traditions but a gentle distillation of established idioms to articulate a persistently catalytic Modernity.”
Chia Yu Chian went under personal tutorship of Singapore art pioneer Chen Wen Hsi. He was the first artist in Malaysia to be awarded a French Government scholarship to study at the famed Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris (1959 - 1962). He had the distinction of his works being accepted 15 times in prestigious Salon exhibitions in Paris and receiving Honourable Mentions in the Salon des Independent and Societe des Artistes Francaise – a rare honour for a non-French artist. He was commissioned to do a mural Life in Malaysia for the Malaysian High Commission in Paris. He returned to Malaysia in February 1962 and held a solo exhibition at the British Council in Penang where all 110 displayed works were sold! A memorial exhibition was held at the Creative Centre, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur in 2002.
Chia Yu Chian Memorial exhibition, The Art Gallery, Penang, 1997.
200 Malaysian Artists, by Dr. Tan Chee Khuan, The Art Gallery, 2002.