LEE MAN FONG
B. China, 1913 – 1988
Signed in Chinese with artist’s seal on lower right
Oil on board
103 x 51 cm
Provenance Private Collection Singapore
Formerly in the Private Collection of a Distinguished Collector in Jakarta, Indonesia
RM 200,000 – RM 350,000
Lee Man Fong’s artistic prowess was a confluence of the Oriental, Western and Indonesian charm. Through his travels that took him around the world to finally settling down in Indonesia, one can discern that his experience had a play in the evolution and maturity of his artistry. The Rojak Seller, lined up for KL Lifestyle Art Space’s Art Auction in November is evidence of the artist’s refined style as well as his penchant for illustrating vignettes of local Indonesian life. The painting portrays a quintessential Southeast Asian scene where a rojak seller is absorbed in cutting up fruits while a customer and his child look on patiently. In the painting, the subject has set up shop under a tree, seated on a wooden bench while fruits are on display on the wooden table. At her side, is an urn of water while a dog keeps her company. The artwork is painted vertically, a reflection of his Chinese artistic vocabulary.
This substantial oil on board sees the usage of subtle sepia-toned palette of earthy browns, with the fruits, the rojak seller’s attire and the artist’s stamp on the far right being the only brilliant points of colour in the entire work. The soft, dreamy hues of the painting evoke nostalgia as viewers gain an intimate glimpse of what can be assumed as the peaceful, self-contained world of the rojak vendor. Although oil paints were used, the artist’s light hand in applying paint onto the board recalls the airy character of Chinese ink.
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. Two distinguishing elements that remain constant throughout these ct matter, specifically that of a man carrying his child.