Tay Chee Toh graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1960. He trained under pioneer artists Cheong Soo Pieng and Chen Wen Hsi, both of whom were known to incorporate Western modernist and Chinese aesthetics in their depictions of localised landscapes. This artistic approach was later coined as the “Nanyang Style”. Like his mentors, Tay shared a similar penchant for this movement, which are visually apparent in his paintings, woodblock prints and sculpture.
After his sojourn to Sarawak, Malaysia, in the 1960s, Tay began to draw influences from Dayak culture, taking motifs such as Dayak textiles and various decorative surfaces as references for his art. The artworks Preparing for the Occasion and Reclining Beauties are part of a series of ten large-sized woodblock prints that took the artist over three years to carve at his studio in Batu Pahat, Malaysia. These large prints attest to the artist’s mastery of the medium and demonstrate the enduring traditions associated with the woodblock.