B. Singapore, 1941
Praying I, 1990s
Signed “Jolly Koh” on lower right
GALERI WAN gallery label affixed to the reverse
Watercolour on paper
37.5 x 55 cm
Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur
RM 2,500 – RM 5,000
Koh was born in Singapore but moved to then Malaya when he was an infant during the Japanese invasion of the country. Koh along with his family moved to Melaka due to this. What people might not know is that Koh’s family weren’t migrants from Singapore. The history of his family’s migration goes back to perhaps 300 years ago, when his first ancestor made his way to the country. “My first ancestor to come to Malaya was Koh Chin. He arrived in Melaka 300 years ago and his great grandson Koh Eng Hoon left Melaka to work in Singapore. Eng Hoon Street in Singapore was named after him and Koh Eng Hoon was my greatgreat grandfather,” explained Jolly.
Koh was born into an affluent Straits Baba family and in his book, Artistic Imperatives: Selected Writings and Paintings, he credits his grandfather for being an integral influence on his development during his teenage years. At the age of 13, he had already won the prestigious Milo Art competition and by the time he was 16, he was given a one-man show at the British Council in Kuala Lumpur, followed by another one in Singapore.