Lot 037

b. Penang, 1929


Signed, dated and inscribed "Monolithic Figure 2
by LJFOR'72' with Chinese seal (lower right)
Inscribed 'Woodcut artist's proof' (lower left)
Woodcut print on paper, artist's proof
81.5cm x 61cm

Private Collection, Penang.

ESTIMATE  RM 7,000 - 10,000

John Lee Joo For is a multi-disciplinary artist and an educator who is adept in painting, printmaking, sculpture, illustration, tapestry and ceramic, theatre (as a producer and playwright), poetry, but it is his graphic art that earns him the highest praise – even from his detractors. Woodcuts, linocuts, etchings, lithograph, serigraph and monotype – these works can stand by themselves, for their vitality and symbolisms and their stark monochromatic gist. This work was done at a transition at the height of his fame, and which he described as “a lapse of faith” before he migrated to Australia in 1973 when he converted to Christianity.  He has said: “The true artist is an intellectual, finely attuned to all the influence of the arts around him. He draws from the worthwhile of music, poetry, literature and the philosophical sciences. He admires the best of history and customs and traditions and invokes the images and patterns to empearl them in fresh light and look in the modern symbolic context of today.”
Lee Joo For was awarded a Malayan Government scholarship to study at the Brighton College of Art, England in 1959. He furthered his studies at the Camberwell School of Art, London in 1962 and at the Royal College of Art, London in 1963 where his fellow peers included David Hockney. On his return, he taught at the St Xavier’s Institution in 1948. He is famous for original plays such as The Flood, Son of Zen, and his best-known play in Australia is The Call of Guadalupe.  He was given a Retrospective by The Art Gallery, Penang in 1995. In 2008, the Penang State Art Gallery honoured him with a major Retrospective. He also won the Best Playwright of the Year (Malaysian Drama Festival) titles from 1969 to 1971, and Best Radio Playwright (Singapore) in 1969.

Lee Joo For Retrospective, Cover essay by Ooi Kok Chuen, The Penang State Art Gallery, 2008.
My Name Is Fire: The Art of Lee Joo For,
The Art Gallery, Penang, 1999.
A Tribute to Lee Joo For,
Art Salon@SENI, 2009.