Masterpiece October 2013 Fine Art Auction Preview

Masterpiece Auction offers an astounding 160 lots, where landscapes and Penang-ites are the order of the day. Common modes of depicting temples and tropical life are abundant - Tan Choon Ghee watercolours, Tew Nai Tong oils, Chuah Seow Keng batiks, and a couple of wonderful girl portraits by Chia Yu Chian. Raja Azhar Idris' Mak Yong dancers trump in elegance over Khaw Sia's rigid Balinese girls, whose idyllic picture is an obsolete choice for the catalogue cover. Abstracts are limited and middling in quality with the typical Latiff Mohidin and Awang Damits. Breaking the norm are Raphael Scott Ahbeng's majestic 'Fairy Mountain', and Khoo Sui Hoe's contemplative 'A Portrait of A Man Under the Sea'. Lack of contemporary works signify the profit-making intent, notwithstanding local collectors' taste for Malaysian modern art.

Lee Man Fong - Reclining Nude

Among 40 Indonesian works, the 3 by Lee Man Fong stand out with its vivid presentation. Be it an impressionist pagoda, a sensual nude, or a pair of chickens, confident brushwork impose clarity and asserts Man Fong's position as a master painter. Tone creates depth via Chinese ink in Cheah Thiensong's 'Bamboo Trees', while Li Baoyi injects pastel colours onto his scroll to illustrate atmosphere in a pastoral scene. Huang Yao's 'A Lone Ranger' strikes a poignant chord in my observations of the local visual arts scene, quoting Song dynasty poet Ouyang Xiu from《春日西湖寄谢法曹歌》:
万里思春尚有情, 忽逢春至客心惊。 雪消门外千山绿, 花发江边二月晴。
少年把酒逢春色, 今日逢春头已白。 异乡物态与人殊, 惟有东风旧相识。

Huang Yao - A Lone Ranger 独醉 (1979)