Following in the footsteps of his Nanyang predecessors, Tay Bak Koi chose typically local scenes to create his painting oeuvre. This early oil painting of a boy tending his buffaloes in the fields is a good example of Tay’s stylised landscapes. The fields are coloured in shades of grey, and the buffaloes are each painted in a different hue. The drawing is stylised so that each buffalo is presented as a geometric pattern, identifiable by the shape of its head and its horns. The little buffalo boy is drawn with obvious reference to the elongated figures created by Cheong Soo Pieng.
The recognisable style that Tay developed in this painting and many related works became iconic for the artist. In the spirit of establishing a visual vocabulary for himself that was modern and reflected the artist’s way of expressing himself, Tay went on to paint many artworks in this characteristic style.
Other works by Tay Bak Koi in the Singtel collection include Bulls (undated), Peace (1989), Pastoral View (1994), Return to Love (1998), Yuan Xiao (2000), and Buffaloes (2001).