422
422
Lee Man Fong
MAN AND BOY WITH COCKEREL
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 875,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
422
Lee Man Fong
MAN AND BOY WITH COCKEREL
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 875,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong

Lee Man Fong
1913-1988
MAN AND BOY WITH COCKEREL
Signed, inscribed and dated 46
Oil on jute mounted on board 
101.5 by 60.5 cm; 39 3/4  by 23 3/4  in. 
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Provenance

Private Collection, USA

Catalogue Note

As a boy in Singapore, Lee Man Fong began to nurture his close study of nature and representation of life under the tutelage under Lingnan master Mei Yu Tian. Under Mei’s teaching, and Huang Qing Quan’s instruction, Lee practiced a mix of Chinese brush painting and oil techniques, focusing on sketching from life instead of traditionally copying existing works. After the death of his father, Lee relocated to Indonesia in 1932 and began work as the art editor for the Chinese paper Shibao in order to help support his family. It was during this time of living in the Dutch colony that Lee was presented with the opportunity to view the paintings of Dutch masters of the 19th and 20th century, particularly those from the Hague School. Drawing from such technical study and inspiration from life on the Indonesian isles, Lee continued to hone his artistry and grew in prominence as an emerging artist in the Dutch and Indonesian circles.

The present lot showcases the influence studying the Dutch masters had on Lee’s early works, demonstrating his masterful understanding of Western theories of perspectives. Man and Boy with Cockerel highlights the burgeoning maturity of the Lee’s signature style as he marries a profound articulation of Western technique with his favoured subject of local life in Bali.

A vignette into local Balinese mores, Lee liberally employs light and shadow bringing the man and the cockerel into centrality with the smaller subdued figure of the boy beside him. With the use of earthy colours and strong brushstrokes, Lee’s composition brings forth the cultural narrative of cockfighting as part of Balinese rituals, evoking a quiet sense of poise around the man as he carries a formidable looking cockerel. To the right of the man, the small form of the boy is moulded by the softly lit contours of his face, torso, headdress and sarong, placing him a little further in the backdrop. The play on perspectives and its resultant depth creates an almost dramatic effect that is further punctuated with the red hue of the man’s headdress, sarong and the crown of the cockerel.

Lee’s dedicated pursuit of his art form culminated in a recommendation to undertake the Malino scholarship in Holland by the Dutch Viceroy Hubertus van Mook in 1946, allowing him to spend six years of formal artistic training in Holland. In the years 1946 – 1952, Lee partook in four exhibitions in Amsterdam, The Hague and international salons in Paris, at which the Eastern flavour imbued in his work drew much acclaim as a fresh, new style. This success empowered Lee to persevere in what became his own personal view on art - mastery of form and plasticity, and an open-ness to a myriad of styles. Lee’s philosophy on art stands as the core of his work, materializing in different stages throughout his oeuvre. It underscores and gives context and insight to how Lee intuitively refined his celebrated style of a harmonious identity between the East and the West.

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong