NG ENG TENG
B. Singapore, 1934 – 2001
The Old and New Dress of the Malaysian Lady, 1960
Signed and dated on lower left
Oil on canvas
84 x 50 cm
Provenance Private Collection, Hong Kong
RM 28,000 – RM 40,000
Sculpting was not the only thing Ng Eng Teng had an aptitude for. The artist departed from his famed medium to produce brilliant artworks, such as the ‘The Old and New Dress of the Malaysian Lady, 1960’. In this piece, he successfully portrays two Malay women donned in their traditional attire, the baju kebaya. In the background, a Malay lady wears a farmer’s hat on her head and simple, plain-hued baju kebaya while sitting in a demure position. Meanwhile, in the foreground, Ng meticulously paints a lady dressed in a vibrant, intricately designed baju kebaya with accessories and a shawl to match. These women symbolise the transformation of the traditional Malay garment from a simple design to one that is more elaborate, keeping up with the times. The faded, washed-out look to this piece of painting gives it a nostalgic and historical mood. The artist follows suit many pioneer artists such as Chua Thean Teng and Khalil Ibrahim in painting the popular subject of Malay ladies in their Sunday best, during the 1960s.
Dubbed the Grandfather of Singapore Sculpture, Ng Eng Teng was born in Singapore in 1934. After training his painting skills under the mentorship of Georgette Chen and Liu Kang, he went on to study ceramics in England. Upon his return, he began to actively and creatively produce large sculptures, most of which became notably famed such as Wealth, Mother and Child and The Explorer. These sculptures are still displayed in public spaces in Singapore. A recipient of Singapore’s Cultural Medallion Award and ASEAN’s Cultural Award for Visual Arts, he believed in free creation and education.