Description: Kuo Juping had done several self-portraits but this is perhaps one with more rough-hewn textures to show more tough character and colour. He looks studious, like a teacher, rather than the businessman he is in an import-export trade, or even an artist. Looking straight at the viewer, his simple white shirt reveals his humility and someone prim and conservative, rather than his status as one dealing with rattan, cloves and nutmeg. According to his main chronicler, Dato’ Dr. Tan Chee Khuan: “He never sold a single painting during his lifetime and signed his canvas only in Chinese, but someone later added a signature in English, probably to boost the value of the works. Sometimes, he would not sign and sometimes he would add a Chinese seal chop.” Kuo Juping (the name was taken after a water plant) was in the pioneering batch of students at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Art (NAFA) in Singapore but had to return a year before graduating to tend to his father’s import-export business, Sing Guan Thye & Co., in Victoria Street. He was a founding member of Thursday Art Group and the Penang Chinese Art Club in 1936. He was one of the first artists to paint the ordinary people and places such as rubber estates, oil palms / cocoa plantations, padi-fields, kampung and make-shift hawker centres. He was a mentor of Tan Choon Ghee (1930-2010) who became a legendary watercolourist. Kuo died of a stroke in March 1966 at the age of 58.
Dimensions: 60cm x 44cm
Artist or Maker: KUO JUPING
Medium: Oil on canvas laid on board
Provenance: Private collection, Penang
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