Executed on jute, the rough nature of the material’s surface lends interest and texture to Soo Pieng’s ink painting. Maintaining his fascination with unconventional, everyday materials, the artist elevates what many might deem a humble medium into a vehicle for innovation. As seen in his earlier metal relief works, Soo Pieng uncovers his tireless experimentation in Sarawak Life. While the scrap metal works in his 1970s series hinted towards the industrialization of Singapore, the aesthetic effect produced by ink application to the jute fibers is apt for the bucolic subject matter in the present piece.
With an unparalleled affinity for detail, Soo Pieng carves out every detail of the landscape with subtle nuances in tones as well as fluid, controlled lines, which captures perfectly the true spirit of the local scenes, subjects and life of Sarawak. Despite adhering to a palette of muted, earthly brown tones, Soo Pieng manages to illuminate the canvas with a dream-like quality, as his attentive brushstrokes dot the canvas with textural undulations, which create light and depth within the foliage of the trees and the surfaces of the mountains. Soo Pieng’s masterful assemblage of colour and shapes breathes life into the flourishing flora and rich cultures of the island, as he illustrates the inherent interactions between nature and humanity. Sentimental in its very nature, this present lot is evocative of Sarawak’s utopian days, as Cheong Soo Pieng provides viewers with a brief vignette into its luxuriant tropics and the delightful rituals of its locale.
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