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Lot 090

b. Johor, 1967


Acrylic on paper
51cm x 38cm

Private collection, Kuala Lumpur.

Quest for Truth in Eng’s works, Ooi Kok Chuen, New Straits Times, 27 October 1995; illustrated on page 3 of Arts section.

ESTIMATE  RM 4,000 - 6,000

When Eng Hwee Chu created this work, which was exhibited in her first solo at National Art Gallery’s Creative Centre, Kuala Lumpur in 1995, her repertoire was already fairly developed and sophisticated: her flaming self-portrait nude figure and the Chagall-like flying rocking horses hinting at innocent sexuality. There is a strange, mystical air about the work. Subtle and couched in fantasy, her Magic Realism diary of life is actually feminism personified, touching on cultural conventions, social taboos, religious strictures and gender equality. The girl in front curled up in a foetal position finds herself constricted by the cordon within the chequered triangle. Strange Mah Meri totems like ancestral guardians of superstitions provide an extra barricade. The rocking horse represents a vehicle to straddle and surmount all her inhibitions steeped in archaic Confucian values and fears, in seeking the truth and finding herself.

Eng Hwee Chu had already made an impact with her Black Moon series between 1989 and 1994. She studied at the Malaysian Institute of Art, Kuala Lumpur from 1986 to 1989 and later clinched the Minor Award (Painting) in the prestigious 1991 Salon Malaysia for her work Black Moon 12. She married installation artist Tan Chin Kuan in 1993. The year 1994 proved a watershed year in terms of career: she won a Minor Award in the Young Contemporary Artists and more importantly, her Cry Freedom won the First Prize in the national-level of the Philip Morris Asean Art Awards. She was selected to participate in major international shows such as the 2nd Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia in 1996, Art In Southeast Asia: Glimpses Into The Future in Hiroshima, Japan in 1997, and Women In-Between: Asian Women Artists 1984-2012 in Fukuoka and Tochigi, Japan. She then returned to the public eye with an exhibition, Archive: Eng Hwee Chu and Tan Chin Kuan at 12 Art Space, Kuala Lumpur in August 2008.

South-East Asian Art Today, Roeder Publication, 1996.