Born on Hainan Island in 1931, Aw Tee Hong was raised in Kelantan, Malaysia. In Singapore, he later enrolled in and graduated from NAFA and pursued further art studies at the Central Academy of Fine Art and Craft in Beijing. His artworks visually articulate diverse cultures and communities inspired by what he learnt in school and his immediate surroundings. The quality of his artmaking resides in his robust academic rigour and his playful intent to experiment and be spontaneous through various mediums. Known to work in charcoal, pastels, oil and acrylic as well as Chinese ink, Aw also created artworks in papier-mâché, bronze and ceramic.
This undated relief work of Plucking Coconut is likely an early piece from the 1970s when Aw first forayed into papier-mâché and paper relief works. Although the outcome seems to resemble a stone or metal relief, Aw created the piece with papier-mâché and judicious use of pigments. Throughout Aw’s artistic career, he presented a penchant for depicting island life and community living. Here, he showed a man balancing long coconut branches on his shoulder, which appear to extend from one end of the canvas to another.