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Pounding Rice
S1980-0847-001-0
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Indian women are pounding rice with long pounders. They work in groups of twos or threes, and there is a rhythmic beat in their pounding action accentuated by the arrangement of the pounders. The figures are realistically painted as flat shapes in harmony with the distant buildings and the flat ground. Although a strong light comes directly from the front it throws no shadows. It is a colourful two-dimensional painting that respects the autonomy of the flat canvas. Illusory space is rendered by overlapping shapes and the diminishing size of the figures.

History of the Object
Lai Foong Moi was one in a handful of women artists to emerge in the Malayan art scene in the 1950s. She moved to Singapore to study at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1953. A scholarship from the French Government took her to Paris in 1955 to study at the L’Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts. She returned to Singapore in the late 1950s and accepted a teaching position at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1958, remaining on staff until 1994. In Pounding Rice, Lai’s choice of local themes places her among artists of the Nanyang School. Here, she pays tribute to indigenous batik traditions as forms are simplified and the women’s physical attributes are abbreviated to solicit greater attention to the intricate patterns on the batik skirts they wear. Lai’s body of works demonstrate her aptitude with stylistic realism and Post-Impressionism. However, Pounding Rice, made soon after her return from Paris, signals Lai’s development towards a more individualistic style.

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Oil on canvas 
Measurements
Width 201 cm Length 250 cm  
Creator name
Lai Foong Moi 
Creator date
1931 - 1995 
Where it was made
Singapore 
Geography
Singapore 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; 1959 
Function
An artwork 
Acquisition
Donated by the artist to NUS Museum probably in the 80s. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
NUS Museum, NUS Centre For the Arts 
Museum
NUS Museum, NUS Centre For the Arts 
Credit line
 

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