Batik Painting

Promised that I’d provide more information about the painting featured in the background of “Psyche” poster and so here it is.

Seah Kim Joo (1939 – , Singapore)
Original Title Unknown (1968)
Batik on cloth
256 x 694cm

Collection of LASALLE College of the Arts

This five-panel batik mural is one of numerous murals Seah Kim Joo was commissioned to complete by both Singapore-based and overseas hotels and banks through the 1960s and 1970s. It was commissioned for the inauguration of Hotel Malaysia in Singapore in 1968, at that time one of the grandest hotels to open in Singapore. In 1973, the hotel was renamed Hotel Marco Polo.

Displayed at the hotel foyer as the centrepiece in the hotel’s collection, the work is a tapestry of numerous imageries of Southeast Asian native peoples and communities engaged in characteristic activities or repose. Many of the imageries in this work were obtained from Kim Joo’s exposure to the works of contemporaneous artists such as Lee Man Fong who drew upon regional subject matter in their works.

About the Artist

Seah Kim Joo was born in 1939 in Singapore and raised in Trengganu where was exposed to traditional batik making processes. He entered Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1959. In 1965, he returned to Trengganu and travelled the Malaysian east coast to consolidate his learning in the technique of batik.


Would like to extend my thanks to Nam Leng and NUS Museum for being so cool and allowing us to have our photoshoot within their premises under a very short notice. It’s really great to be able to work with someone who’s flexible and willing to let students experiment.


3 thoughts on “Batik Painting

  1. On our honeymoon in the summer of 1968 my wife and I stayed at the Malaysia Hotel and were blown away by the five-panel mural in the Lobby. We met Seah Kim Joo and we have one of his originals and a print of his batik that hung in our room. Seah also introduced me to durian!! In 1974 I studied batik in Jogyakarta for a month. I taught batik in the classroom from the mid 60s to the mid 90s. My former students still talk about there days batiking and the batik shows we had each year.

  2. In the late 1960’s, while on a Ford Foundation Project at the Serdang College, my husband and I purchased a Kim Joo painting in Kwuala Lumpur. It has been hanging in our living room in the U.S. since then. It has given us so much pleasure and admired by our friends. Thank you Kim Joo.

    Earline Pesson

  3. I have a batik painting by Kim Joo that I acquired in Singapore in the 1970s. Please let me know who can appraise this painting, which is a large batik (24″ x 36″) of fisherman and nets in shades of ochre and brown.Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s