CHOO KENG KWANG
(B. Singapore, 1931)
Winter Birds, 1983
Signed and dated “K.KWANG 83” on lower right
Oil on board
80 x 120.5 cm
Private Collection, Singapore
SOLD – RM 49,560
Choo Keng Kwang’s subjects of birds from the early 80’s are extremely rare and very much sought after. More rare are ones painted on masonite board as in this piece completed in 1983, which was executed alongside his mentor, Lee Man Fong who painted with him regularly in the early days in Choo’s residence.
“This painting is unique as it depicts a harmonious and peaceful society. Two color doves on top of branch and one at the bottom of the branch represent a multi-racial society and two doves in flight for homecoming and two in the centre stands for harmony.” – Ivy Choo, daughter of Choo Keng Kwang.
Bathed in soothing colours to amplify the beautiful harmony in nature, depicted here are uncommonly sighted birds, possibly of the fantail pigeon species. This idyllic painting depicts exotic winter birds – with some perched silently on branches, some mid-flight and zooming in to alight on the very same branch, as described by the artist’s daughter:
Choo Keng Kwang was the only son of a Teochew diamond trader. He was heavily criticized for his decision to enroll in art classes but it paid off, as he graduated with two certificates, one from Catholic High School and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. He then became a teacher and was made the principal of Sin Hua School. His paintings were presented to the late Egyptian president Sadat and China’s Chairman Mao Tse-Tung and have also adorned the late President Ong Teng Cheong’s official residence at Kheam Hock Road.
Choo has held and participated in numerous solo and group art exhibitions in Singapore and abroad. His works have toured Southeast Asia, Japan, Europe and US. For instance, in November 1990, he became the first Singaporean artist to participate in a cultural exchange exhibition in Jakarta, Indonesia. In July 1993, he was invited to exhibit his paintings in Brunei to commemorate Sultan of Brunei’s 47th birthday. Choo is also a philanthropist, involving himself in community and charity work by donating the proceedings of his paintings to hospital and communities.