Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Indian Dancers
Indian Dancers

Indian Dancers depicts  a group of Indian women in vibrant  red kurta tops, dancing in the middle of a banana plantation. The dance with sticks they are performing is possibly the popular kolattam or dandiya folk dance. The dancers’ arms sway above them like the  leaves of the banana trees behind them. With its lush colours of red and green, Kuo Ju Ping has captured a vibrant scene of communal activity and celebration in the lush tropics. Like many paintings of this period, Indian Dancers is the artist’s attempt to convey a  picturesque image of cultural life in Malaya.

Oil on board
60 × 77 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Kuo Ju Ping
About Kuo Ju Ping

Kuo Ju Ping (b. 1908, Fujian, China – d. 1966, Penang) moved to Malaya when he was a teenager and was among the first batch of students at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. Unfortunately, he had to cut his education short to take over his father’s import-export business. Ju Ping was relatively unknown during his time, only gaining recognition posthumously. Despite this, he remained passionate in his artistic pursuits and was a dedicated art educator. He helped found the Thursday Art Group and Penang Chinese Art Club, and fostered many young artists who later became prominent names themselves. Since his death, he has been honoured with three retrospectives in Penang: at the Khek Association, Penang State Art Gallery, and The Art Gallery Penang. His works have also been exhibited at the Fukuoka Art Museum in Japan and the National Art Gallery of Malaysia. 

Further Readings

  • Marco C. F. Hsu. A Brief History of Malayan Art. Singapore: Millennium Books, 1963. 

  • Kuo Ju Ping Memorial Exhibition Catalogue, Penang State Gallery, 1997

Learning Section

  • Look carefully at the painting. Imagine it was divided horizontally in three pieces, top, middle and bottom. What do you see in the top of the image? What colours and patterns do you see? What shapes do you recognise? What about in the middle section? What colours dominate? What shapes and patterns do you notice? Now look at the bottom third. What do you see? What is the most important colour? What patterns and textures do you see? What is the most important of the three sections? How does the artist draw our eye to this section?

  • Look at each of the dancers. Has the artist given them individual features or are they represented as generic figures? Do you think he knew them? How does the artist show us the rhythm of the music and dance? How does the artist show movement in the painting? Do you think the dance is fast or slow, gentle or frenetic? What clues do we have as to the type of music which is playing?