1113
1113
Cheong Soo Pieng
ABSTRACT 1963
Estimate
1,200,0001,800,000
JUMP TO LOT
1113
Cheong Soo Pieng
ABSTRACT 1963
Estimate
1,200,0001,800,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art Evening Sale

|
Hong Kong

Cheong Soo Pieng
1917-1983
ABSTRACT 1963
Signed in Chinese; signed and dated 1963 on the reverse
Oil on board
64.5 by 84.5 cm; 25 1/2  by 33 1/4  in. 
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Provenance

Acquired directly from the estate of the artist
Private Collection, Singapore
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
Private Collection, Taiwan 

Exhibited

Taipei, Asia Art Center Taipei, Cheong Soo Pieng: A Centenary Celebration in Taiwan, November - December 2017 

Catalogue Note

Resplendent and absorptive, Abstract 1963 is a pivotal piece painted at an early peak in Cheong Soo Pieng’s long and varied career. Sotheby’s is privileged to offer this exuberant painting, which vacillates between balletic harmony and pugilistic vigour.  This exceptionally rare, early work from the maestro’s foray into abstraction signifies his versatile artistry and his sheer prodigy.

 

Cheong Soo Pieng is well celebrated as one of the seminal first-generation Singapore artists who was influential in the Nanyang movement and in the moulding of Singapore’s visual identity. Renowned for his experimental spirit and practice of a myriad of styles, mediums and subject matter, Soo Pieng produced a repertoire that was far from unilateral. His adaptability and evolutionary sensibilities were the undercurrents to his pursuit of constant innovation of form, allowing him to freely release his creativity in a multitude of methods and expressions.

 

Abstract 1963 is a showcase piece of Soo Pieng’s evolution in his artistic identity, demonstrating the influence his European sojourn had on his practice. Having been exposed to the vibrant art scene of the early 1960s, Soo Pieng was moved by such fresh perspective. The post-war generation in Europe sparked new movements in painting, driving the fervent development of abstraction amongst the likes of Kandinsky, Marc and Klee. In particular, Soo Pieng was struck by its modes of individual expression and encapsulation of the human spirit. Resultantly, he was emboldened to marry these fresh western ideologies with his roots in Asian landscapes.

 

With modulated intensity of his paint application, the artist uses varying shades of gold and washes of vermillion to fill the negative space behind the black and white elements in the present lot. The unconventional choice of color imparts a luminescent, opulent quality to the board. Although it is an oil painting, the gold resembles the iridescent qualities of lacquer and harps to more dimensional mediums such as sculpture. The colors are also layered in a fashion that is demonstrative of Soo Pieng’s mastery of the thin oil technique. He adeptly works the viscous oil paint into a thinner consistency, painting in sheer layers and thus achieving a similar translucent, atmospheric feel reminiscent to Chinese ink paintings.

 

Abstract 1963 is also a prime example of the artist’s aspiration to capture the fundamental essence of his subject matter through avant-garde forms. Indeed, Soo Pieng founded his re-imagination of landscapes and nature through constant experimentation with composition, colour and harmony. In this flourishing work, he redefines the elemental forces of a landscape by painting distinctive free forms with raw edges and vital colour fields, creating different textures on the canvas, thus imbuing it with a sense of space and depth. Central to this picture plane are vigorous applications of colour and strong energetic strokes, expressing a certain spontaneity through the fluidity of the paint. Soo Pieng masterfully combines the gestural movements of traditional Chinese brushwork with Western compositional structure of abstract painting.

 

Lustrous and dazzling, this work holds weight as an important piece of evolution and maturity in Soo Pieng’s artistic prowess as he successfully captures the abstract relationship between pictorial elements and emotions. A brilliant torrent of energy, this magnificent all-over composition speaks to his expertise in creating synergy between his heritage and new art movements. It stands true to his ever-growing expressive capabilities and it presents his bold ambition as he rises to the zenith of his artistic generation, ultimately standing as “an artist of even higher level fully in tune with the world stream of art.”[i]

[i] Loke, W.T., Sullivan, F., 1963, Cheong Soo Pieng, Singapore, South Seas Press Limited.

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art Evening Sale

|
Hong Kong