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Kayan Musician

Cheong Soo Pieng1981

National Heritage Board, Singapore

National Heritage Board, Singapore

Cheong Soo Pieng (1917-1983) is regarded as a pivotal figure in Singapore's modern art development. Born in Xiamen, China, he was part of a group of artists that attempted to articulate a style identifiable and pertinent to post-war Singapore, then known collectively with Malaysia, as Malaya. This style, later crystallized as the Nanyang Style, provided a foundation upon which future generations of artists learned and expanded on. A key element of the Nanyang Style was the synthesis of Chinese pictorial elements and the diverse formalistic qualities from the School of Paris. Unlike his earlier phase of experimentation with impasto, Cheong explored the effects of thin and diluted oil paint in the 1970s and 1980s. He had by this time developed his unique stylisation of elegant elongated figures with almond shaped eyes and 'Kayan Musician' is a prime example. The Kayan people, an indigenous tribe in Borneo are featured in several of Cheong's paintings after he made a trip and spent time with them in 1959.

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