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Lot 014

b. England, 1923 - 2009

DANCE SCENE, c.1950s

Oil on board
40cm x 49cm

Private collection, Kuala Lumpur.

Picture Exhibition, Malayan Arts Council, May 1955.

ESTIMATE  RM 5,000 - 8,000

Although the dance sequence and spirit are different, this light-toned work elicits comparison to the iconic oil-on-board Spirit of Earth, Water and Air (1958) by Patrick Ng Kah Onn. Patrick’s dance is the Balinese kecak but Peter Harris’s dance with the rattle of bamboo stumps performed by garlanded bare-chested strong-bodied men could be a figment of his imagination. A lone gentleman sits among the bevy of female musicians of bamboo rattlers, his hand resting on a long bamboo stump. The village women are out in their numbers, looking left and transfixed by the spectacle as the male dancers wend their way out of the jungle setting on a slightly raised ground.

Peter Harris laid the foundation of early art education in the then Malaya, first as Art superintendent of the Federation of Malaya (1951-60) and then at Gaya College in Sabah (1962-67). He was accorded the National Art Gallery’s first retrospective in 1960. He was perhaps better known as founder of the Wednesday Art Group in Kuala Lumpur in 1952 and was awarded the MBE (Member, Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II of England in 1963. He was largely forgotten until Galeri Wan mounted a retrospective for him in 1997 with the help of artist Yeoh Jin Leng, and this was followed by another exhibition at The Art Gallery, Penang in 2001.

Peter Harris - Founder of Wednesday Art Group, The Art Gallery, Penang, 2001.

Peter Harris Memorial Exhibition, Art Salon@SENI and The Art Gallery, Penang, 2009.