Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Padi Farmers
Padi Farmers

Padi Farmers features Tay Mo-Leong’s signature elements of bright colours, abstract figures, and a flat pictorial plane. In this picture, a group of women are hard at work processing harvested padi (or “rice” in Malay; also Anglicised as “paddy”). Ornamental details on the women’s hair, their batik sarongs, and the paddy provide texture against the picture’s flatness. The women in the top half of the image are pounding rice by hand, a pre-modern method of de-husking it. Their backs are bent at various angles, displaying a dance-like movement in their rhythmic labour. In the bottom half of the painting, a solitary woman seems to be manually threshing the paddy into a covered container, another pre-modern method of separating grain from the straw. The presence of a kerbau (buffalo) to her left completes this typical rural scene.

89 × 67.5 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Tay Mo-Leong
About Tay Mo-Leong

Tay Mo-Leong (b. 1938, Penang) received his art education from the Taiwan Provincial Taipei Normal College (now National Taipei University of Education) in 1957 and later at the Longboat Key Center for the Arts, Florida, in 1970. It was in Taipei that he first developed an interest in batik. Upon his return to Malaysia in 1960, he set about perfecting his batik skills through repeated study trips to Kelantan. Though mostly known for his batik works, he was also proficient in watercolours, and served as Chairman of the Penang Watercolour Society for twenty years from 1985 to 2005. He has had solo exhibitions locally and internationally, in Japan, the United States, and Australia. In 2009, the Penang State Art Gallery honoured him with his first retrospective.

Further Readings

Learning Section

  • Describe what the women in this painting are doing. What are the predominant colours in this artwork? Why has the artist chosen this colour palette? What effect does this have?

  • Look through the ILHAM collection until you find another batik artwork or artworks. Are there similarities between this artwork and other batik pieces? Are there differences? What does this tell you about the medium?