CHUAH THEAN TENG, DATO'
b. China, 1912 - d. Penang, 2008
MOTHER AND CHILD PLANTING SUNFLOWER, 1969
Signed ‘Teng’ lower left
59cm x 44cm
Private collection, the United Kingdom; acquired directly from the
ESTIMATE RM 30,000 - 40,000
PRICE REALISED RM 33,000
Although the crouched figure of a woman takes up a large pictorial space, the clever use of contrast in shape, colour and scale allows the sturdy ramrod-straight stalk of a sunflower to bloom centre stage. Towering over the boy on the right who is carrying a watering can, the effect is one of majesty, with the leaves – three on each side, in symmetry and ordered numbers – opening up like an open palm in prayer. It is as if both figures are paying obeisance to the multi-petalled gold-tinged flower. The batik work is delightful and playful, well composed and harmonious – all hallmarks of a vintage ‘Teng’ as the artist is more popularly known.
Having adorned the wall of the residence of a British family in the United Kingdom for over four decades, it is with great honour to welcome this classic piece home.
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.