Lot 111

b. China, 1912 - d. Penang, 2008


Signed 'Teng' (lower right)
43.5cm x 58.5cm

Private Collection, United Kingdom;
acquired directly from the artist.

ESTIMATE  RM 35,000 - 50,000

Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng’s creativity knows no bounds in his presentation of rural narratives filled with charm, humour and beauty. Pursuing his favourite Mother-and-Child theme, Teng, as the batik-art doyen is called, snugly places the baby in a womb-like cocoon with the shape of the mother and a little girl, probably the sister, acting like a protective epidermy. The thick front on top adds as a cover as well as a soothing fan lulling the baby as the sister tries to divert his attention with an origami bird. Again, subtle elements of nurture and Nature are all around. Not many realise Teng’s pre-eminence in world art history. As Pierre Jenneret wrote in London’s Daily Mail, as early as 1959: “Finding an entirely new and immediately convincing method of pictorial expression is a rare occurrence. The last I can think of was the invention of lithography between 1796 and 1798. Now come another.” In the book, Chinese Art in the Twentieth Century, Dr. Michael Sullivan wrote: “In Tsai Tien-teng (Chuah Thean Teng), Malaya claims to have found their national painter.”

Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng is the world-acknowledged founder of Batik Painting and he never looked back since his breakthrough exhibition in 1955. His paintings, Two Of A Kind (1968) and Tell You A Secret (1987), took on iconic status when selected for Unicef’s greeting cards. He studied at the Xiamen (Amoy) Art Institute in China but did not complete because of illness. He was honoured with a retrospective by the National Art Gallery (NAG) in 1965 and by the Penang State Art Gallery in 1994. The Penang State Government conferred him Datoship in 1998 and he further received the ‘Live Heritage Award’ in 2005. The NAG gave him a memorial exhibition in 2008. His major works are on show at his Yahong Art Gallery in Batu Ferringhi in Penang, which is a veritable museum also showcasing the batik works of his sons and grandsons.

Chuah Thean Teng Retrospective, Penang Museum and Art Gallery, 1994.
Teng Batik,
Yahong Gallery, Penang, 1968.
Teng: An Appreciation, National Art Gallery, 2009.