NAFA’s Western Painting graduate Koeh Sia Yong practiced different arts across the industry in his career. In addition to magazine illustrations, he also produced political cartoons and painted large cinema billboards. He is best known for his technical abilities in oil painting, as well as the quality of his draughtsmanship.
As a practitioner who is strong in the graphic tradition, Koeh’s work in woodcut is unsurprisingly relevant to his era. Vanishing Sia Kim Island is a woodcut in colour, likely executed with multiple pulls through registration of the same image from the same plate. The Chinese title simply refers to an island of coconut trees that is ‘vanishing’ – likely referring to how a rural idyll is slowly being overcome by modern development. The tall coconut trees create beautiful, swaying lines in harmony with what appear to be clouds in the sky. The deep sepia, orange tone casts an almost melancholic sunset over the scene, sublimely noted by the labourer returning home, head bowed, on the right. The woodcut offers an incredibly succinct manner in which a story can be told with colour and line.