January 20, 1981, The Malay Mail, Tuesday


The Malay Mail, Tuesday, January 20, 1981

A fiesta of strokes

Caricaturist Wong-pao makes a comeback

By Tan Gim Ean

To the uninspired, Wong-pao’s paintings appear as nothing more than comic characters caught in a rainbow of activities.

They sing, dance, play, feast, study, ride and sail – all in ancient Chinese tradition.

The style may be typical of oriental art, but they also betray more than a stroke of the artist’s early training.

Mr Wong-pao was a caricaturist. As editor of a Shanghai newspaper, he published a caricature series of four books known as The Bull’s Nose.

Inadvertently, he came to be known by that acronym, a stamp that marked out his other publications, and later, paintings.

After the war, Wong-pao left Shanghai for Thailand, Vietnam and Hongkong, where he taught Chinese educational affairs in between producing another series of caricatures and paintings

Wide range

Three years ago, Mr Wong-pao retired. A friend who was keen on opening an art gallery suggested that he supply the exhibits.

His artistic flame rekindled, the master set to work. Within two years, he produced countless pieces remininiscent of a China that now exists only in books and folklore.

Mr Wong-pao’s versatility is evident in his wide range of themes. They include calligraphy, which he writes inversely in keeping with an ancient style which means “emergence from behind the clouds.”