Lot 52 | Auction XVIII

LOT 52


B. Singapore, 1934-2004

Satay Seller, 1981 Two Sisters, 1982

Inscribed and signed, with seal of the artist on lower right

Chinese ink and colour on silk
14 cm (diameter) x 2 pieces

Provenance Private Collection, Kelantan

RM 5,000 – RM 12,000

All these come alive in this painting of the ‘outline and wash’ method or shuang-gou-tian-cai. This involves first outlining all the elements to be depicted in ink with a Chinese brush, freehand. It is then “washed over” with a flat wash of light colours. One is amazed by Phua’s ability to go into very fine details.

Phua started working as an apprentice in his teens in various trades to earn a living, finally ending up in a photographic studio where he eventually became a photographer. He attended night school and learnt western paintings at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts as well. There he was tutored by the famed Cheong Soo Pieng. Later, he picked up Chinese ink and brush paintings by himself, and subsequently left his job to become a full-time artist till he passed away in 2004.

We can clearly see the influence of Singapore’s pioneer artists in Phua’s work. Two of his other paintings displayed in Somerset Liang Court’s Residence Lounge depicting girls in ethic dress, bear the marks of his teacher Cheong, one of four artists often regarded as champions of the Nanyang Style, which flourished when the four made a milestone painting trip to Bali in 1952. Regardless of the technique employed, these artists invariably chose subject matters related to the Nanyang or Southeast Asia region. Thanks to this approach, images of yesteryear of this region still live on today, even though the real objects and the life styles have long passed.