Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
A Beautiful Morning in Kampung
A Beautiful Morning in Kampung

The slender leaves of the Torch Ginger plant obscures the left half of the image, giving the audience a voyeuristic glimpse of a mother and child in front of their wooden kampung house.  The artist drew the Torch Ginger plant, a rhizome known in Malay as pokok bunga kantan, which gives us the aromatic ginger flower that is used to garnish dishes including assam laksa, from the plant in his own backyard.. Like a faded photograph, the muted tones convey a sense of nostalgia. Drawing inspiration from cultural and natural environments, the artist has developed his own decorative style of batik painting.

87 x 57.5 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Koay Soo Kau
About Koay Soo Kau

Koay Soo Kau (b. 1946, Penang, Malaysia) is an artist with a career spanning six decades. He was also an art teacher at Sekolah Tinggi Bukit Mertajam, as well as President of the Penang Teacher’s Art Circle from 1993-1997. His artistic practice can be categorised into three eras: his most well-known batik works made in the 60s, realistic-surrealism oil painting in the 90s, and Impressionist paintings. He was a self-taught batik artist who looked to the batik sarong artisans of the east coast, as well as prominent figures such as Chuah Thean Teng and Seah Kim Joo for inspiration. 

Further Readings

Learning Section

  • Describe what you see in this painting. What do you see in the foreground? What do you see in the middle ground? And the background? Look again at the foreground of the painting. Why has the artist chosen to fill so much of the foreground with one object? What effect does this have?

  • The artist is painting a scene from a kampung. Do you think he is a member of the community he is drawing? Is this his village or is he a visitor? Does he know the women he is drawing? What makes you think this?

  • What elements of this artwork are distinctively Malaysian? Do you think it represents contemporary Malaysia? How has globalisation affected Malaysia? Do you think globalisation and developing technologies are a positive force in Malaysia?