Lot 51 | Auction XIV

LOT 51

(B. China, 1906-1991)

Two Gibbons, Undated

Inscribed and signed, with two seals of the artist
Ink and colour on paper
152 x 42 cm

Private Collection, Kedah
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

SOLD – RM 36,960

Famous Chinese ink painter Chen Wen Hsi was especially adept at painting the human figures and animals, but the ones that stand out and happen to be his favourite were his paintings of gibbons.

The inspiration came from the famous triptych paintings by 13th century Southern Song Dynasty Chinese artist Mu Xi – the White Robed Guanyin, Crane and Gibbon. Moved by this, he studied the piece and started emulating them. This fascination then led him to buy his own pet gibbons when he arrived at Singapore. This gave him the opportunity to study the creature’s postures and characteristics. He had six pet gibbons – one white, one grey and four black ones. In this painting, despite the simplicity that comes with it, Chen Wen Hsi’s effortless skill makes this piece truly a exquisite one indeed.

Chen Wen Hsi was born in 1906 in Baigong, Guangdong. He moved to Singapore and was based there until his death in 1991. Despite his uncle’s objection during the early years, Chen decided to pursue fine art at the Shanghai College of Art before transferring to the Xinhua College of Art in Shanghai where his mentor was Pan Tianshou. For his contributions to the fine arts in Singapore, he was awarded the Public Service Star in 1964. He also founded the Chun Yang Painting Society in Shantou.