LEE MAN FONG
B. China, 1913 – 1988
Signed “M Fong”with artist seal on lower right
Watercolour on paper on masonite board
65 x 43 cm
Private Collection, Singapore
RM 5,000 – RM 12,000
Stylistically, Rojak Seller shares similarities with classical Chinese paintings. This present piece is a portrayal of human connections— the social interaction and intimacy between the people and a woman manning a rojak stall as seen per the artist’s observation of an Indonesian village life. The painting is a visual story of the relationship between a street vendor and a woman with her child. Women played a significant role in Lee Man Fong’s oeuvre. Notably in the works dedicated to female weavers, as well as the sweeping narratives found in his Bali themed paintings that paired archetypes of island living with individuals from the artist’s own memory. During his days in Indonesia, Lee Man Fong was awarded a scholarship from the Dutch government. In these seven years abroad in the Netherlands, Lee Man Fong fully immersed himself in studying Western art. Rembrandt and Vermeer were two artists who had an influence upon the artist’s usage of light and shadows, as well as subject matter that favoured rural daily life. Rojak Seller can be seen as the Southeast Asian version of domestic livelihood. Classically recognisable, Lee Man Fong birthed similar works of the same ‘Rojak Seller’ series, some made their way to major auction houses such as Sothebys and Christies in Hong Kong. Such an evocative piece, highly coveted by many, had recently gone on to garner an astounding price of HK$2,750,000 at Sothebys during its Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art Evening Sale on Oct 5, 2019.