Lot 1064
  • 1064

Cheong Soo Pieng

1,200,000 - 1,800,000 HKD
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  • Cheong Soo Pieng
  • Blue Abstract
  • Signed and dated 74 on the reverse
  • Oil and mixed media on canvas


This work is in good overall condition as viewed and the paint layers are healthy overall. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals very minor spots of restoration along the edges and corners of the canvas on the top quadrant, and some minor spots of restoration at the top quadrant and edges of the white color field. Framed.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

The evolution of Singaporean modern art is very much due to the pioneering artist Cheong Soo Pieng whose career has largely influenced the country’s artistic identity and propelled it onto a global art stage. He is known for his paintings that go from figurative to abstract expressionist works with ease, for his creative vocabulary is rich with cultural motifs and aesthetics. One of the founding members of the Nanyang art group that welcomed in the modernist art movement in Singapore, Cheong Soo Pieng produced a body of works that provides a visual guide to the maturation of the country’s creative presence in the region, as well as one man’s personal history as a Chinese immigrant forging a new life for himself in a country where he embraced art to garner himself stability with his outsider status.

Cheong Soo Pieng’s oeuvre shows his skill as an observant bystander to the ebbs and flows of life, as well as the want to convey these emotions within a two-dimensional paradigm. However, it is his abstract paintings that merge the artist’s classical Chinese art education with Western aesthetics, for these artworks allow him to experiment and play with mediums, textures, and colors. The present work entitled Blue Abstract perfectly represents Cheong Soo Pieng’s appropriation of the abstract art genre and redefines it in what can be seen as an Asian context. As per the artist’s want to experiment with certain elements, the current piece is demonstrative of all his favored motifs, including the color scheme, linear patterns, and compositional layout that allude to the horizon where land and sky meet.

The painting was created in the late seventies, already a period where the artist was confident with his application and technique in abstract art. Cheong Soo Pieng’s interest in abstract expressionism began in the early sixties when the artist traveled to Europe to partake in art shows. There he gained firsthand exposure to Western art museums, and foreign artists including Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, and George Braque. All these individuals would have an influence upon his abstract paintings, as well as a permanent impact on his paintings from the late sixties and onwards. Blue Abstract was painted after the artist had gained momentum in his abstract style, and shows his intimate understanding of this art form to touch upon the audience’s visceral emotions, rather than being a literal display of shapes, colors, and forms.

Cheong Soo Pieng’s appropriation of abstract expressionism in his paintings blends the aesthetics of Chinese paintings together with the ideals of the Western art canon. In the current work the artist is seen experimenting with colors and shapes to create a dialogue with the audience that inspires a mental communication that arises from the enigmatic presence of the lines paired with the bright blue background. Many of the artist’s abstract paintings were based on landscapes that he remembered from a memory, and Blue Abstract may invoke similar emotions, for in the painting the composition is mostly governed by the color blue, while the top portion of the work is an intricate pattern of geometrical shapes that are reminiscent of the Singaporean topography when seen above in an airplane.

Many of Cheong Soo Pieng’s paintings were an adaption of a physical environment, and the artist liked to employ organic elements in the works. Circular shapes were a favorite motif that frequented the abstract paintings. In Blue Abstract, he has forgone with the traditional circular motif, and instead placed his attention on the angular forms of squares to create a different emotional experience for the audience when looking at the painting. It should be noted that the artist’s paintings created from the early seventies and onwards continued in this particular aesthetic of linear patterns and a color scheme grounded in cool colors such as blue, green, and turquoise.

Earlier works from the sixties show him experimenting with abstract expressionism, embracing colors to connect with the audience’s cognitive relationship with the paintings. During the sixties he was seen to employ warmer hues such as reds, oranges, and yellows in the paintings, however only a few years later he moved to a cooler color scheme, and experimented with mixed media to establish sculptural effects within the paintings. Blue Abstract references this gentle divorce in aesthetics, and the new focus on textures and shapes to build up the narratives. All these elements encouraged a special relationship with the artworks. This connection is evident within Blue Abstract, for Cheong Soo Pieng’s unique and highly personalized view of redefining his environment in such a composition inspires the audience to delve deeper into the painting, and seek to anchor themselves in the enigmatic, and yet calming scene.