CHUAH THEAN TENG, DATO’
b. China, 1912 – d. Penang, 2008
LULLABY, c. 1970s-80s
Signed ‘Teng’ (lower left)
90cm x 90cm
Private Collection, Australia; acquired directly from the artist.
ESTIMATE RM 90,000 - 120,000
PRICE REALISED RM 89,600
|An iconic piece by Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng, Lullaby showcases one of Teng’s favourite motifs - the sphere. The womb-like sphere achieves an intimate and endearing effect - the mother figure fills half of the right side circular composition and on the opposite, her toddler daughter with a bright yellow origami in her hand looking into the batik-clothed baby hammock to peek at her younger sibling – forming an ideal image of a wholesome unit. The circumscribed format contains the loving tenderness of a Mother and Child theme entwined into delicate veneer of cracked lines. His colour palette is predominantly in cool blue and the floral patterned batik sees hints of green, blue, red and black. Elevating the flat blue tones are her bright red lips, her yellow floral hair tie and the origami.
Hailed from a private collection in Australia, this alluring piece was acquired by the present owner directly from the artist when they visited Penang between the late 1970s and early 1980s, and has been kept in pristine condition. After over three decades, this precious gem will appear on public viewing for the first time in its homeland.
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 Ferringhi 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, Kuala Lumpur, 2009.