Cheong Soo Pieng:
Metals, Found
Objects and Assemblage

25.02 // 14.03.2022

CSP 551 69, Construction, 75 x 100 cm, Aluminium relief, VIP UBI.jpg
Cheong Soo Pieng, Construction, 1969, Mixed media and aluminium relief, 75 x 100 cm

artcommune is pleased to present Cheong Soo Pieng: Metals, Found Objects and Assemblage. Cheong Soo Pieng is an important pioneer of the Nanyang art style and one of the most creative Chinese artists of the 20th century. His varied output, which centres on the bold pursuit of Modern aesthetics and innovative amalgamation of forms and techniques derived from both Western and Chinese art traditions, was instrumental in shaping the development of Singapore Modern art. Over a career spanning almost fifty years, Soo Pieng devoted an entire decade (1965 – 75) to working with metals, found objects, and assemblage, revealing his wholehearted and intensive experimentation with blurring the boundaries between art and non-art objects. Featuring 8 exquisite metal relief, assemblage and mixed media works completed in the period of 1965-75, this small survey highlights Soo Pieng’s innovative use of found and unconventional materials in this particular chapter of his formal pursuit.

Though formally trained as a painter, Soo Pieng delved into sculpture around 1965 and was one of the six local artists featured in the country’s inaugural First Sculpture Exhibition in Singapore in 1967. Around this same period, he began composing with scrap and industrial materials such as raw copper sheet, aluminum, rivet, iron rod, and plastic wood. Several of his assemblage pieces that emerged in the following ten years feature as well everyday found objects like wires, gravel particles, bottle caps, and metal pots and pans. Soo Pieng creatively repurposed these non-art materials into three-dimensional sculptural and metal relief artworks. They are either abstract or figurative, and often espouse recurring forms or motifs seen in his oil compositions of the period. By liberating these industrial or found objects from their original functions and imbuing them with new expressive potential in novel artistic conceptions, Soo Pieng sought his own unique inroads into modern trends and movements shaping the international art scene, where the use of readymades and found objects had proliferated since the early 20th century and crystallised into groundbreaking conceptual art forms. Between the 1960s and 70s, Soo Pieng was possibly the first amongst his local contemporaries, and amongst the earliest of Chinese artists in the world to have forayed into making art with scrap metals, found objects and assemblage.

Cheong Soo Pieng (b. 1917, Xiamen, China – d. 1983, Singapore) is an important pioneer of the Nanyang art style and one of the most creative Chinese artists of the 20th century. His varied output, which centres on the bold pursuit of Modern aesthetics and innovative amalgamation of forms and techniques derived from both Western and Chinese art traditions, was instrumental in shaping the development of Singapore Modern art. Soo Pieng studied at Xiamen Academy of Fine Arts in 1933 and furthered his art education at Xinhua Academy of Fine Arts in Shanghai in 1936.At both academies, he was schooled in a Beaux-Arts type of curriculum and was well exposed to both Chinese painting and Western modern art (in particular the school of Paris - Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism and Cubism).After the 2nd World War, as a civil war broke out between the Communists and Kuomintang forces, Soo Pieng relocated to Singapore in 1946.He took up a teaching position at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and thereon began his fervent synthesis of Western and Chinese pictorial styles, drawing often from themes and subjects relating to his new, immediate environment in Malaya. Several overseas sojourns undertaken by Soo Pieng between the 1950s and 1970s were known to have effected distinct stylistic transitions in his artistic oeuvre. For example, the historic 1952 Bali trip (with Liu Kang, Chen Wen Hsi and Chen Chong Swee) culminated in the birth of a regionally influential Nanyang art style and seeded Soo Pieng’s lifelong fascination with Balinese figures and oriental motifs; his longhouse stay in Borneo in 1959 inspired as well a lifelong interest in styling the indigenous Dayak people in a variety of painting formats and mediums; his European trip from 1962-63 initiated a devoted exploration of abstract and mixed media works; and his first return trip to China in 1979 resulted in a repertoire of ink works that sought to reinvent Chinese classicism.

Exhibition Period

Date: 25 February - 14 March 2022

Time: 12pm - 7pm daily

Venue: artcommune gallery (address below)

Art Talk | Singapore Artist Series: Cheong Soo Pieng

Date: Saturday, 5 March 2022

Time: 5 - 7pm

Venue: artcommune gallery (address below)

Fee: SGD 25 per person

Speaker is Ho Sou Ping, Artist and Director of artcommune gallery.

RSVP is required due to limited capacity. To register your interest, please email us 

at valerie@artcommune.com.sg

Artworks Selection