353
353
Cheong Soo Pieng
GOATS
Estimate
400,000600,000
JUMP TO LOT
353
Cheong Soo Pieng
GOATS
Estimate
400,000600,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong

Cheong Soo Pieng
1917-1983
GOATS
Signed and dated 57
Oil on board
37 by 45 cm; 14 1/2  by 17 3/4  in.
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Provenance

Private Collection, Singapore

Catalogue Note

Painted just a year after his monumental trip to Bali, Goats by Cheong Soo Pieng is nothing short of an exquisite rarity. Born in 1917 in Xiamen, China, eventually settling down in Singapore, Soo Pieng’s heritage and career was an exciting amalgamation of cultures. After working as a teacher at Yi Zhong School from 1939 to 1943, Soo Pieng decided to flee China, leaving his wife and his child behind, to avoid the instabilities of the Sino-Japanese War. Soo Pieng’s subsequent move to Singapore ushered in a new era for him, as he became a prolific member of The Singapore Art Society (SAS), which provided him with an impetus to search for new visual iconographies, methods and inspiration. It was through his involvement with SAS that Soo Pieng, alongside three other celebrated artists, Cheng Chong Swee, Chen Wen Hsi and Liu Kang, embarked on an epochal five month stay in Bali, reinventing the ways in which the mystical landscapes and exotic cultures of Southeast Asia would be illustrated by artists forevermore. With that, Soo Pieng’s expertise was reinvigorated by a new plethora of artistic methods, such as relief carvings in wood and stone, Batik design and indigenous ethnic iconographies, all of which find their roots in Southeast Asian heritage.

Executed in 1957, Goats heralds Soo Pieng’s acute attentiveness to scientific color theories, as well as the development of his modern compositional style. With Soo Pieng’s inclusion of newfound Southeast Asian subject materials and motifs into his paintings, the richness of his visual renderings illuminate how the minutiae in design and visual texture can influence the narrative of a masterpiece so greatly. Perhaps inspired by the natural and sociological beauty of Balinese life, the stylized silhouettes of each goat are imbued with liveliness and motion, as if they could leap over their enclosure at any given moment. Yet they graze peacefully, content with the idyllic serenity of their perimeters, evoking a peaceful resonance with the viewer. Keeping to the Nanyang style that emerged in Singapore and Malaya in the 1950s, which originated from none other than the master himself, Soo Pieng depicts the angularities of the goats’ bodies, outlining their musculature with deft strokes of black oil, so that their individual figures stand out amongst the canvas. Contributing to the distinctiveness between each goat is Soo Pieng’s confident application of scientific color theories, as he pays particular mindfulness to the nature of complementary colors. Note how the contrasts between each tone stand out – Soo Pieng’s fruitful experimentations with color are evident in this piece, as he adheres to a monochromatic palette, and relies on nuanced tones of burgundy, browns, golds, and beige to generate depth, movement and dimension. It is with this unusual early period work that we witness Soo Pieng’s mastery of visual hybridity, as he lends from cubism compositional styles, as well as Western and Chinese painting conventions to create a sense of spatiality. An alluring and tranquil exhibition of Soo Pieng’s halcyon days, it is worth noting that he only painted a handful of oil painting during this execution period, making this present lot all the more an extremely rare and coveted masterpiece. 

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

|
Hong Kong