Lee Man Fong

Lee Man Fong pic

Lee Man Fong

Born in GuangDong, China, 14th November 1913.

Lee Man Fong Fong moved to Singapore in 1917. He migrated to Java in 1932 and worked for Dutch Printing and Publishing Company, Kolff. He was invited by the head of the Dutch East Indies Association in Batavia, 1936, to participate in an exhibition. It was a great honor since he was the first non-Dutch artist to be given this invitation. He was married to pianist Lie Muk Lan who bore him a son, Lee Rem, in 1938. Lee Rem also became a painter and would later join his father in exhibitions.

After 1940, Fong fully devoted himself to painting. Working briefly in Bali, he held solo shows in Jakarta and Bandung. He quickly gained recognition, and many of his paintings were influenced by Willem Hofker. Following which, he held a solo show in Jakarta in 1941.

In 1949, he was awarded a Malino scholarhip in the Netherlands where he spent three years. His talent was recognised by President Soekarno, who later appointed him as an art advisor.

From 1955 to 1961, Fong headed the Yinhua Meishu Xiehui (Society of Chinese Artists in Indonesia). From 1961 to 1966, he was the court painter at the presidential palace. In 1964, together with Lim Wasim, Fong compiled a 5-volume edition of the Soekarno Collection, which also included many of his own works.

During this period Fong became an Indonesian citizen. However, in 1967, Soekarno fell from grace. Fong, considered close to Sukarno was suspected to have communist inclinations. This resulted in the artist’s decision to move to Singapore in 1970. His career continued to thrive and was often given commissions by the businessmen who wanted him.

In the 1980’s, Fong subsequently suffered from kidney and heart disease, leading him to lead a reclused life.

Lee Man Fong, returned to Indonesia in 1985 and passed away on April 3, 1988 in Jakarta.

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