256
256
U Ngwe Gaing
STILL LIFE WITH FISH
Estimate
260,000350,000
JUMP TO LOT
256
U Ngwe Gaing
STILL LIFE WITH FISH
Estimate
260,000350,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong

U Ngwe Gaing
1901-1967
STILL LIFE WITH FISH
Signed
Oil on canvas
90.5 by 67 cm; 35 1/2  by 26 1/2  in. 
Executed circa 1960
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Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist in the 1960s
Thence by descent to the present owners
Private Collection, U.K.

Catalogue Note

U Ngwe Gaing was one of Burma’s most preeminent artists in the post-WW2 period, pioneering a distinctive Rangoon school of realist artistic expression throughout his career and establishing himself as one of the country’s leading cultural icons. Born in 1901, he began his career as an illustrator for magazines and movie posters, gaining a reputation for his versatility and sheer range across diverse genres and mediums. However, it was his mastery of naturalist, lyrical oil painting that became his hallmark, and by 1953, he was just one of two artists to receive the country’s highest artistic honor, the Alinga Kyaw Zwa, in recognition of his sophistication and the depth of his oeuvre.

Still Life is a quintessential Ngwe Gaing masterwork, rendering the ordinary and every day with a meticulous attention to detail. Here, the artist frames a table teeming with seafoodand produce, the very picture of abundance. This visual richness is further heightened by a richness of color, and this work is distinguished for Ngwe Gaing’s fidelity of color, harking back to a rich classical European tradition of still life works. Ngwe Gaing’s artistic practice was to mix multiple colors upon the brush itself, before layering them directly onto the canvas, which contributed to his organic, complex color designs.

Above all, Still Life is a study in visual perspective, something Ngwe Gaing liberally drew from Western techniques courtesy of his teacher Ba Nyan, who had been the leading figure of innovation in modern Burmese art. This work was executed entirely in a Western vein, featuring a very tactile sense of mass with naturalistic perspective and shading. His focus on representing the extent of light and shadow is immediately evident, in the sheen of reflective silver and blue from the fish’s scales, and the glazing across the peels of the fruit.

This work is a stunning technical display of Ngwe Gaing’s skill and sensitivity for colors, but also demonstrates a progressive evolution of styles in Burmese art, borrowing the best aspects of representation and framing from the Western tradition and embedding them into a new, definitive Burmese visual identity.

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong