Arts & CultureLIFESTYLE

A Teh-lented Artist!

Whether you’re a hardcore, professional artist who draws psychedelic backgrounds for Anime movies, or the average recreational hobbyist who enjoys painting by the park just opposite your home, you’ll be surprised to see the amazing works of this one particular artist.

Meet Mr Teh Siew Joo, an 87-year-old Ipohite artist who has held numerous solo art exhibitions in Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. He is a graduate from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 1954 and has held several art-related positions in Shanghai and Hong Kong, including animation art designer, publisher of children’s art books, commercial artist and many others.

To add to the richness of his career, he has also worked as an interior designer in Malaysia for well over 20 years and was appointed by His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to design the interior of the Pekan Palace.

After eight long years, Teh Siew Joo finally returns to his hometown of Ipoh to showcase paintings in the theme “Fleeting Age, Blooming Flowers” at SOMN Tea House from December 9 to 12. Many of his well-known paintings in watercolour were on display as well as his poetic Chinese ink wash paintings.

“I fell in love with painting by being in awe of the drawings found in children’s books when I was a very young boy,” said Teh, “I always looked at cartoon books at Concubine Lane here in Ipoh.”

As a young kid, he used to be very intrigued by the drawings in the Chinese novel, ‘Journey to the West’, and would recreate the drawings of Sun Wukong in his spare time. (Fun fact: He started off drawing sceneries!)

He says that he has been trained under some of China’s finest and most respected artists at the time such as Qi Bai Shi and Wu Guan Zhong whom he still looks up to until today.

Alternatively, during his stint as an interior designer, he has worked with various hoteliers, rich men and restaurant owners in Malaysia such as the Mandarin Hotel in Kuala Lumpur and the French Hotel in Ipoh to design their premises.

When prompted with a question on whether there are any rising prospects from Ipoh, he responded, “There is a shortage of artists here, and there’s nobody to carry on the work which is quite saddening to see.”

“University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) has offered me to work and lecture for them,” said  Siew Joo, “But I’m still considering whether I should go.”

At this tender age, he is still extremely confident and skilful in his craft which has earned him the title of one of Malaysia’s premier painters and water-colourists, and of course as an honourable son of Ipoh.

You can view his art pieces at Teh Siew Joo Fine Art at 20A Pesara Ipoh Satu, Taman Ipoh, 31400 Ipoh, or contact him at 012 583 4420.

Jack Foo

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