428
428
Lee Man Fong
SATAY MAN WITH CLOSED UMBRELLA 
Estimate
800,0001,500,000
LOT SOLD. 1,000,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
428
Lee Man Fong
SATAY MAN WITH CLOSED UMBRELLA 
Estimate
800,0001,500,000
LOT SOLD. 1,000,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art – Day Sale

|
Hong Kong

Lee Man Fong
1913-1988
SATAY MAN WITH CLOSED UMBRELLA 
Signed in Chinese and stamped with the seal of the artist 
Oil on masonite board 
122 by 60 cm; 48 by 23 1/2  in. 
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Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist 
Private Collection, Indonesia 
Christie's Hong Kong, 26 November 2006, Lot 81 
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner 
Private Asian Collection 

Catalogue Note

Lee Man Fong was an Indonesian artist celebrated for his richly sentimental yet elegant paintings. A long-time friend of former President Sukarno, he also served as the chief curator of the Indonesian Presidential Palace’s collection in the early 1960s.

The Satay Seller is a classic piece that exemplifies Lee’s refined style as well as his penchant for illustrating vignettes of local Indonesian life. Painted in a vertical orientation reminiscent of classical Chinese paintings, it depicts a quintessentially Southeast Asian scene-- a satay seller grilling his skewers on a small charcoal brazier while patiently fanning the coals with a piece of rattan. A tree rendered in the loose, freeform xieyi style borders the work on the right, further highlighting the influence of Chinese ink paintings on Lee’s artistic vocabulary.

The present lot’s previous owner lived and worked in Indonesia in the 1950s, where he became acquainted with Lee and later acquired the painting from the artist directly.  The Satay Seller is an exquisite example of the alluring synthesis of Oriental and Western aesthetics found in Lee’s work. His six-year sojourn in the Netherlands from 1946-1952 as the recipient of the prestigious Malino scholarship—the only one offered by the Dutch government to a non-citizen at the time—introduced him to the techniques employed by the Dutch masters, expanding his repertoire of artistic skills beyond those of classical Chinese painting. Lee was an avid admirer of Rembrandt, particularly the latter’s attention to chiaroscuro, and sought to incorporate it into his own works. Lee was also inspired by Dutch genre paintings, which portrayed the simplicity of daily life and amplified the beauty of ordinary happenings. In that vein, The Satay Seller demonstrates Lee’s transformed painterly style as he reached new heights of creativity following his time abroad.

The present work teems with serene charm, and underscores Lee’s masterful artistry in documenting everyday scenes. Although it was created with oil paints, his light hand in applying paint onto the board recalls the airy character of Chinese ink. The subject matter is communicated through suggestions of form within light and shadow instead of harsh lines and defined edges, lending the piece a gentle, almost impressionist quality. Lee also uses a subtle sepia-toned palette of earthy browns, with the red of the glowing coals (and the artist’s stamp on the far right) being the only brilliant points of colour in the entire work. The soft, dreamy hues of the painting evoke a bittersweet feeling of nostalgia as the viewer gains an intimate glimpse into the peaceful, self-contained world of the satay vendor.

However, Lee’s admiration for the poetic aesthetics of classical ink paintings did not deter him from innovating upon them.  In a departure from the flat, two-dimensional representations of form found in ink paintings, Lee employs fixed perspective in the present work--his introduction of depth into the composition of the painting vis-à-vis the angled position of the satay seller and his makeshift stall reflects his fluency in Western artistic techniques. The Satay Seller is at once timeless yet distinctly modern in sensibility, a testament to Lee’s confident amalgamation of different artistic styles into his own.

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art – Day Sale

|
Hong Kong