Lot 070

b. Sarawak, 1896 - d. Penang, 1962


Signed and dated 'MUNSEN 1936' (lower left)
Oil on canvas
49cm x 58cm

Private Collection, Penang.

Yong Mun Sen Retrospective 1999, Penang State Art Gallery, 1999, illlustrated on exhibition catalogue page 31.

ESTIMATE  RM 50,000 - 80,000

One of the earliest oil paintings to be produced by Yong Mun Sen, Boats through the Nets stands to be the oldest piece in this sale. It was during the mid-thirties that the artist began producing some of the most exceptional oil paintings of his lifetime. Illustrated here is view of the sea through the lens of Yong Mun Sen who had perhaps set up easel on location as he was known to have worked en plein air to capture the essence of tropical life. A boat floating by the coast is the focus of this piece framed by a cobweb of fishnets hanging above wooden poles to dry. Two figures on the beach are distinctly toiling in the heat of the sun suggested by the golden sand and sky. His dark palette is reminiscent of the chiaroscuro style of painting with a combination of Post- Impressionist technique employed by Paul Gauguin. As a selftaught painter, he experimented with Western style paintings through art books and magazines as well as from his fellow artist-friends at the time.

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 artist-friends 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.”