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Lot 059

b. China, 1913 - d. Penang, 1984

TEMPLE, 1949

Signed and dated ‘SIA. 1949.’ lower left
Watercolour on paper
46cm x 54cm

Private collection, Kuala Lumpur.

Eight Pioneers of Malaysian Art, Dato' Dr. Tan Chee Khuan, 
Penang State Art Gallery; illustrated on page 132.

ESTIMATE  RM 8,000 - 12,000

A shiny giant bronze urn with emblematic dragon flanges at the sides and a table urn on the main prayer’s table can be seen adorning the temple. Despite all the lanterns, buntings and ornate decorations, the table is empty of offerings. A large donation box is placed at the front portion of the temple. The hall is bound by slightly raised cement slabs leading to the red-tiled interior. The inscriptions on the pillars read: ‘The wisdom of Buddha is infinite. Following it will lead you to what you want to achieve.’ A yellow robed monk walks towards the main prayer area from the right while a statue of a deity can be discerned further back.

Khaw Sia had his early art tutelage at Sin Hwa Academy in Shanghai, graduating in 1932. In 1933, he took informal private classes under the great British watercolourist Sir Russell Flint in London. He migrated from China to settle in Penang in 1937 and held his first solo there in 1955. Khaw Sia, an avid orchid enthusiast, is known for his bevy of orchid paintings sometimes in a mixed still-life with baked crabs. His watercolours were already of such impeccable quality that they were accepted by the prestigious Le Salon Paris in 1956, the 14th Summer Salon at Royal Institute Galleries in London in 1957, and the 25th National Society Exhibition in London in 1958. He was honoured with a posthumous retrospective by the Penang State Art Gallery in 1998.

Penang Artists 1920s-1990s, Dr. Tan Chee Khuan, The Art Gallery Penang, editions 1990 and 1992.
Pioneers of Malaysian Art, Dr. Tan Chee Khuan, The Art Gallery, 1994.