The Artist Profile of Lee Sin Bee

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One of our most popular covers since I’ve been handling them since 2001, was the May 2009 one courtesy of the brilliantly talented Lee Sin Bee. Within the first day of distribution, I had received several calls and emails from Expat readers interested in purchasing it and some of the paintings showcased on the inside article. Lee has just finished another series called EXPECTATION and it is simply stunning. It was a very difficult decision deciding which of these glorious paintings to put on the cover, believe me!

Lee is a native of a small town near Ipoh in Perak. His humble demeanor and shy personality belie his acclaimed reputation in international and local art circles as well as his first class talent and even I will go so far to say, genius, as an innovative artist. He’s a graduate of one of the finest Art Colleges in Malaysia, the Malaysia Art Institute and has recently moved with his wife and one year old son to KL to better interact with all his fans. He’s just returned from a very successful trip to Beijing where he was one of the selected few international artists invited to participate in the 4th Beijing International Art Biennial. The theme this time was Environmental Concern and Human Existence with the Ideals of Art.

Lee’s painting, titled “Expectation” and also his centrepiece, was painted with this theme in mind. (see p38 ) Says Lee, “My oil painting is of a Nyonya in her Kebaya dress, sitting alone in the backyard garden, looking up to the sky. This style of painting incorporates an element of ancient Chinese art whereby certain areas are left unpainted. This enhances the illustration technique and is intended to attract more attention from the viewer to fixate onto the painting as a whole.”

Lee continues with passion, “The painting can also be interpreted to value our climate that is changing. Effective action needs to be taken right now to protect our environment or else all the beautiful flora and fauna we can still see around us today, will be only be seen in paintings for tomorrow’s generation. I am fortunate to be able to express my opinions as an artist, through my art, to inspire people to think differently about the serious issues of our times.”

Lee also laments the passing of cultures into the globalization zeitgeist that has been occurring for the past 50 years, particularly the Baba-Nyonya, those early Chinese men who immigrated south to Melaka and Penang far from their own country. The men or Baba settled and married the local women who became known as Nyonyas and their descendants as Baba-Nynoyas.

“I derive my inspiration from their unique customs and cultures, especially the clothing,” Lee tells me. “I’m awed by the simple yet vibrant colours they used and this captivates me in a way that motivates and unlocks my artistic voice to speak to my viewers through my canvas. I’ve painted these eight paintings for the expats reading this because I want you to know of these old cultures and the rich multilayered heritage of all Malaysians.”

“I am very proud of my country’s heritage and want to share it with as many people outside Malaysia as I can,” he ends.

If you would like to meet with Lee or discuss the purchase of any of these selected
paintings, please email me at [email protected]

This article was written by Marbeth Ramey
This article has been edited for
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