B. Penang, 1904 – 1962
Tree by a River, 1955
Signed and dated on lower right
Artist’s blindstamp on upper left
Verso with red stamped AA
Watercolour on paper
33 x 56 cm
Private Collection, USA
RM 28,000 – RM 60,000
Meticulously illustrated, this painting is Abdullah Ariff’s narration of a large canopy of a tree perched at the river bank. Painted in an almost dream-like scene, the entire mood quiet and tranquil. The artist’s virtuosity in wet-on-wet and dry-on-dry watercolour skills are shown through the way he portrays movement in the waters and the tree. His works are more ‘European’ in terms of looks and approach, and they are more heavy in its details.
Abdullah Ariff was an art teacher at the Anglo-Chinese School in Penang. He, along with fellow artist Yong Mun Sen were the forerunners of watercolour painting in Malaysia. They
were also the only two local members of the Penang Impressionists club, an art group whose members were made up of European colonials. In 1947, he worked for the Straits Echo newspapers in Kuala Lumpur as a cartoonist. He held his first few solo exhibitions at the Mint Museum, the Ownbey Hall and the Malayan Embassy in the United States. A road in Air Itam, Penang, is named after him, making him the only artist to ever receive such an accolade. His personal philosophy was, “Art has no obstacles”.