Cheong Soo Pieng: Drawings is an exhibition of over 30 drawings on paper that span three decades of the artist’s career arc. Drawing was integral to Soo Pieng’s practice and many drawings made during his lifetime were fashioned into recurring forms and expressions in his oil and ink paintings. It is estimated that his drawings alone amount to around two or even three thousand works, many of which are now in Singapore’s national collection.
Cheong Soo Pieng (b. 1917, Xiamen, China – d. 1983, Singapore) is an important pioneer of the Nanyang art style and one of the most creative Chinese artists of the 20th century. Soo Pieng studied at Xiamen Academy of Fine Arts and furthered his education at Xinhua Academy of Fine Arts in Shanghai. After the 2nd World War, he relocated to Singapore in 1946 to take on a teaching post at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and thereon began his fervent amalgamation of Modern Western and Chinese pictorial styles. Often drawing inspiration from themes and subject matters relating to his new, immediate environment in Southeast Asia, the landmark trip to Bali in 1952 inspired Soo Pieng (and three other pioneer artists Chen Wen Hsi, Chen Chong Swee, Liu Kang) to reinvent groundbreaking pictorial modes culminating to the Nanyang art style. A trailblazer throughout his lifetime, his creative output of varied styles and mediums was instrumental in shaping the early Singapore art scene.
The selection in this exhibition largely dates from the period of late-1940s-early 1960s, which offers a glimpse into Soo Pieng’s captivating repertoire of everyday encounters on the streets of Singapore and Malaysia, as well as his sojourns abroad at places such as Bali (1952), Borneo (1959) and Europe (1962-63). Also featured are drawings of Balinese scenes and figures completed by Soo Pieng during his last known visit to the island in 1977, which captures his aesthetic shift to a highly ornate and detailed style of drawing in his later life. Together, these drawings apprehend the interiority of Soo Pieng’s thoughts and the primacy of form in his painting process.
Venue: artcommune gallery, 76 Bras Basah Road, #01-01 Singapore 189558
When: 3 - 19 Mar 2023, 12noon - 7pm