Art Detail | Ilham Gallery

Kok Yew Puah ended up being one of less than a handful of Malaysian artists in the mid-1960s to pursue studies in Australia, majoring in painting and then completing a masters in printmaking at the art school of the National Gallery of Victoria. Here, he was caught up in the international movements of the time, particularly the “new abstraction” characterised by hard-edge, geometric, colour and flat abstraction as practised by lecturers such as Alun Leach-Jones and Bea Maddock. Puah returned to Malaysia from his studies in January 1972, joining a sizable cohort of fellow art school graduates from Europe and the UK, and coming back to a modern art scene in the making. That March, he held a solo exhibition at Frank Sullivan's Samat Art Gallery, standing out as a bold printmaker, with ideas and aesthetics that aligned with that of the cerebral experiments of the so-called local "New Scene" movement.

Silkscreen on paper
90 x 70.5cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Kok Yew Puah
About Kok Yew Puah

Kok Yew Puah (1947 - 1999) was born in Klang, Selangor, Malaysia. He studied at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School, Melbourne, Australia from 1966 - 1971, where he obtained a Diploma in Painting and a Master’s degree in Printmaking. After returning to Klang in early 1972, Puah held a solo exhibition later that year, showcasing his large colourful “hard-edged” abstract silkscreen prints. After leaving art for several years to run a family business, he forged a new practice as a figurative painter, producing some of the most honest, human and subjective representations of the country’s visual landscape of the late 1980s and 90s, captured through the immediate experience of his life in his hometown Klang as it transformed into an industrial hub. It is a portrait that speaks of anxieties about environmental damage, and the impact of rapid development particularly on younger generations, and their growing disconnection from history and culture. He passed away at the age of 51.