Singapore-based art space artcommune gallery will be presenting next month the first-ever retrospective survey of the entire body of ink work of Chinese-born Singaporean painter Cheong Soo Pieng, who is considered as one of the most innovative Chinese artists of the 20th century.
Cheong was known for his stylized depictions of Malay and Balinese women, where he applied his unique aesthetic that blended Hindu, Chinese and Modernist European influences. Together with another Chinese-born Singaporean artist, Chen Wen Hsi, Cheong founded what became known as the Nanyang Style of painting, a Southeast Asian art movement characterized by its use of graphic outlines and muted palettes in Chinese ink paintings.
In artcommune gallery’s upcoming show, titled Tonalities: The Ink Works of Cheong Soo Pieng, to be showcased are over 100 ink exhibits of the pioneer artist. The idea is to put Cheong in a new light by taking viewers through different periods of the artist’s career.
Among the important stages to be covered are Cheong’s overseas painting sojourns that shaped his oeuvre. One of these is the artist’s trip to Bali, Indonesia, that cultivated “a lifelong preoccupation with Balinese figures and motifs.” Set to be presented as well are Cheong’s encounters with post-war contemporary art in Europe, his re-invention of Chinese classicism after returning from China, and untold stories with never-before-seen works from his final years.
Cheong was born in 1917 in Xiamen, China. He studied at the Xinhua Academy of Fine Arts in Shanghai before moving to Singapore in 1946. He died on July 1, 1983 in Singapore. His works are in the collections of the National University of Singapore and the National Gallery Singapore.
Tonalities: The Ink Works of Cheong Soo Pieng will open on May 14 and run until May 30 at Artspace @ Helutrans in Singapore.
The space is open from 12 noon to 7 pm daily. Admission is free.
Art collectors and enthusiasts can get hold of artcommune’s new bilingual (English and Chinese) publication, which shares the same title of the exhibition, to learn more about the Cheong’s body of ink work.
artcommune gallery was founded in 2009 by Ho Sou Ping, with a particular focus on Singapore Modern art. According to its web site, the gallery “represents the finest and most important artists in the Singapore visual art canon, from revered pioneer masters Cheong Soo Pieng and Chen Wen Hsi, to current leading painters of varying fortes including Lim Tze Peng, Ong Kim Seng, Tan Choh Tee, Tong Chin Sye and Wong Keen.”
More information on the exhibition can be found at artcommune’s web site.