STPI proudly presents a major solo exhibition of Cheong Soo Pieng. Examining the master’s work through his ingenious approach to composition and materiality, this show highlights his artistic breadth and depth like never before, through fifty-two exemplary paintings, sculptures and works on paper, gleaned from important private collections.
For Soo Pieng, the most important aspect of making a good painting, outside of technical skill, was composition. Composition is where placement of subject, colour, linework, emotion and detail, or material, come together. It arises from both intuition and planned formulation. As an artist who consciously strove to create art that was modern and relevant to place, Soo Pieng persistently experimented with a wide range of media and expressions, producing many bodies of artworks throughout his career. By tracing major artworks that bear witness to Soo Pieng’s various approaches to composition, the routes taken by the artist in his development of the modern painting are shown. This procedure allows us to consider how Soo Pieng inventively composed his artworks, often featuring favourite subjects, using Chinese ink, oil, metal and other materials.
Soo Pieng strove to transfer these various elements and interests to a new modern visual language, through the compositions of his work which critically employed techniques and formats from both East and West. His method of extracting the essential, simplest details to compose his final paintings resulted in artworks that were a poetic gesture. Unlike the gestural, subconscious paintings of abstract expressionism, Soo Pieng’s final way was to compose the simple transcendent image based on a cognizance of the physical world. Although a heart failure in 1983 caused him to miss the completion of major solo exhibitions in Singapore and China, Soo Pieng contributed to Southeast Asia his achievement of melding a modern East-West art that challenged the way of artwork creation amongst the artists of the Chinese diaspora of his time.
Press release courtesy STPI - Creative Workshop & Gallery.