CHUAH THEAN TENG, DATO'
b. China, 1912 - d. Penang, 2008
MOTHERS AND CHILDREN, c. late 1970s - early 1980s
Signed ‘Teng’ lower left
89cm x 89cm
Private collection, United States of America; acquired directly
from the artist.
ESTIMATE RM 90,000 - 120,000
PRICE REALISED RM 132,000
An iconic piece by Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng, Mothers and Children showcases one of Teng’s favourite motifs – the sphere. The womb-like sphere is used to compactise the image, making it more intimate and endearing. The figures are of two mothers in the act of sewing, facing each other with heads bowed and looking over their young daughters. The format also circumscribes the intimacy and love of this double Mother and Child theme, interweaving the story into the smooth veneer of cracked lines of soothing colours against the thickets of floral prints of the sarong. The curvilinear motif replicates itself throughout the entire composition in the outlines of the closed eyelids, the daughters’ hair and the mothers’ sleeves and breasts.
Sourced from the United States, this piece was acquired by the present owner directly from the artist when they visited Penang in the 1980s, and has been kept in pristine condition. After over three decades, this precious gem will appear on public viewing for the first time in its homeland.
Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng is the world-acknowledged Father of Batik Painting, especially after his break-through exhibition in 1955. He is undisputedly a recognised artist internationally 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 because of 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, 2009.