Lot 49 | Auction XIV

LOT 49

(B. Singapore, 1939-2005)

By the Stream, Undated

Signed “BAK KOI” on lower left
Acrylic on rice paper
30 x 30 cm

Private Collection, Singapore

SOLD – RM 5,500

“My aim is to give people something beautiful to remember and cherish; something that they are familiar with but have forgotten. My subjects may look ordinary enough, but each has its own meaning. I paint from what I see, from my memory, and then use my artistic license to beautify them.”

The lines between fantasy and reality are often blurred when it comes to works done by Tay Bak Koi. He incorporates that idyllic and dream-like quality into his paintings and made it his signature. In fact, he is known for merging fantasy with realism so flawlessly. For instance, his realistic sceneries and landscapes are often injected with fairytale-like interjections. This emphasizes the hybridization of reality and perception, as seen in this piece. Although he emphasizes on the observable reality, he engages his piece and the audience in a process of exclusion and distortion, in order to reduce complex forms to their basic shapes. As a result, there is a keen appreciation and presentation of the two-dimensional aspects of his pieces.

Tay Bak Koi was an artist renowned for his portrayals of fishing villages, kampung scenes and urban landscapes. He specialised in oil and watercolour and his works have been exhibited extensively in Singapore and various other countries, including Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Germany and the United States. Tay’s talent for drawing was discovered by his father’s friend, who subsequently enrolled him in the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1957. His teacher, the late Cheong Soo Pieng, taught him to appreciate existing works of art in new ways and to challenge conventional art forms.