Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Abstract Composition
Abstract Composition

In Abstract Composition, splintered geometrical shapes in hues of orange and blue collide and merge with one another on a yellow ground. The arrangement of circular shapes in the centre provides a vertical focus and splits the composition in two.  While the Sarawak-based artist was known for his impressionistic scenes of places in Kuching, he constantly experimented  with Western pictorial idioms. This work, produced in 1955, is a primary and exemplary attempt by the artist at deploying the newfound elements and values of Abstract art in his practice. 

Oil on board
35 x 45 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Tsai Horng Chung
About Tsai Horng Chung

Tsai Horng Chung 蔡洪鐘 (b. 1915-2003, Putian, Fujian Province, China) was a Chinese-Sarawakian artist, educator and poet. In 1938, he studied at the Shanghai Art Academy before emigrating to Sibu, Sarawak to be reunited with his family and begin his teaching career. During his training, Tsai was greatly inspired by his two teachers Wang Geyi and Ne Yide, who instilled in him a strong foundation in both Chinese ink painting techniques and Western painting approaches. Through his life and career, Tsai had amassed a prolific body of work, inclusive of watercolour, oil and Chinese brush paintings. More importantly, he had - like many of his Nanyang contemporaries - combined and transformed the various pictorial influences from both East and West to reflect his identity and role in post-war Malaysia. His work has been shown in notable exhibitions such as Pertumpuan: Senusa Sejiwa (2014) at Galeri PETRONAS, and The Nanyang Show (2016) at the Visual Arts Centre, Singapore. Tsai has profoundly impacted the artistic life of Sarawak and was presented with a posthumous exhibition, Rediscovering Tsai Horng Chung, at the National Art Gallery in 2005.

Further Readings
Learning Section
  • What do you see in the image? Describe the colours you see. How are they placed in the image? How has the artist used tone? Are there areas which are darker or brighter than others? Describe the lines and shapes that you notice. Are there any patterns or textures?

  • What is the mood or atmosphere of this piece? What does this work remind you of? Are there any shapes you recognise? What do you think the artist was thinking when they made this piece?