Lot 024

b. Sarawak, 1896 - d. Penang, 1962


Signed and dated 'MUNSEN 48' (lower left)

Charcoal on paper
50cm x 72cm

Private Collection, Penang.

Yong Mun Sen Retrospective 1999, Penang State Art Gallery, 1999, illlustrated on exhibition catalogue page 39.

ESTIMATE  RM 15,000 - 25,000


Renowned for creating Nanyang style visual illustrations which entails the amalgamation of both Eastern and Western painting techniques and the adoption of local landscape as subject matter, Yong Mun Sen implements his knowledge in both manners in producing most of his fishermen scenes, coastal and village panoramas, labourers at work and more in mediums such as watercolour, oil and charcoal. Presented here is a sketch of a scene of two women engrossed in the act of songket weaving executed in the latter medium. A woman figure is seated on a bench with her back facing the viewer unaware that she is being observed while the other is seated on the ground, her facial expression displays a sense of enthused motivation. The songket is a brocaded textile in silk or cotton fabric intricately weaved with metallic thread. Originated from Indonesia, the fabric is widely used till this day throughout Southeast Asia. Its tedious and complicated weaving process requires skilled craftspeople to work speedily in order to achieve the desired results.

After witnessing a Japanese artist painting in his family’s coconut and pepper plantation, Yong Mun Sen (born Yong Yen Lang) became inspired to become a painter. He changed his name to Yong Mun Sen in 1922, two years after settling in Penang. He had established a photography studio named Tai Woon / Wei Guan Art Studio in 1922 and renamed it Mun Sen studio in 1930 which then became a favourite meeting place for fellow artistfriends namely Tay Hooi Keat, Kuo Ju Ping, Khaw Sia, Lee Cheng Yong, Abdullah Ariff and other pioneering Malaysian artists. He co-founded the Penang Chinese Art Club in 1935 and was elected vice president. He initiated the formation of Singapore Chinese Art Club the same year. Posthumous memorial exhibitions were honoured to him in Singapore (1966), Galeri 11, Kuala Lumpur (1966), the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (1972) and the Penang State Art Gallery (PSAG, 1972). In 1999, the PSAG organised a retrospective exhibition where Boats through the Nets was displayed. Dubbed ‘The Father of Malaysian Art’ by many, Yong Mun Sen has left behind a remnant of history for the present and future art enthusiasts to remember him by. The great Xu Bei-hong (1895 - 1953) described Mun Sen as “the most outstanding figure in Malaysian art and one of the few top artists in the tropics.”