Singaporean (1917 - 1983)

Born in Fujian, Cheong Soo Pieng (1917-1983) is one of Southeast Asia’s most prominent artists emerging from the post-warChinese diaspora. A ceaseless innovator, he constantly experimented with new artistic compositions and materials; a journey which culminated in both innovative abstract designs and sensitive depictions of Balinese figures. He was a pioneering figure of the Nanyang Style alongside artists such as Chen Wen Hsi, Liu Kang and Georgette Chen.

Combining the sensibilities of Chinese ink and Western oil painting, Cheong utilised graphic outlines and mellow tones to elevate tropical daily life in Southeast Asia. He was inspired by his trip toBali in 1952, which led to his unique illustrations of doe-eyed female figures with elongated limbs and simplified forms reminiscent of wayang kulit puppets.Pushing the boundaries of abstract art, he explored space and form by further delving into sculptures and assemblages, showcasing his proficiency across mediums.

Cheong moved to Singapore in 1946 after graduating from Xiamen Academy of Fine Arts.Beyond Southeast Asia, his travels to Europe in the early 1960s spurred him to apply modern materials and techniques to bothAsian and Western subjects. During his two-year sojourn in London and Europe from 1961-1963, Cheong created a multitude of ink sketches inspired by nature and landscapes. These rich textures of these sketches were also adapted in his abstract oil paintings, which elegantly communicate his nostalgia for the vast landscapes of the West.
A portrait of Cheong Soo Pieng


1917 Born in Xiamen, China
1935 Graduates from Xiamen Academy of Fine Arts, China
1936 Moves to Shanghai to study at Xinhua Academy of Fine Arts.
1945 Moves to Hong Kong
1946 Moves to Singapore
1947 - 1961 Becomes lecturer at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore
1948 - 1961 Becomes part-time lecturer at the Chinese High School, Singapore
1952 Travels to Bali with Chen Chong Swee, Chen Wen Hsi and Liu Kang
1954 Features in the inaugural issue of the Singapore Art Society journal The Singapore Artist
1961 - 1963 Travels to Europe
1962 Awarded the Pingat Jasa Gemilang (Meritous Service Medal), Singapore
1963 Represents Singapore in ‘Commonwealth Art Today’ at the Commonwealth Institute, UK
1964 Sets up an art studio and private lessons on Zion Road, Singapore
Commission work by the Tourism Promotion Board
1983 Passes away in Singapore

1963 Cheong Soo Pieng, Redfern Gallery, London, UK
Solo Exhibition, Frost and Reed, Bristol, UK
Solo Exhibition, Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford, UK
1965 Malaysian Art Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1967 Twenty Years of His Art, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1983 Cheong Soo Pieng Retrospective Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore
2010 Bridging Worlds, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
2013 Solo Exhibition, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore
2017 Cheong Soo Pieng: A Centenary Celebration in Taiwan, Asia Art Center, Taipei, Taiwan
2019 Soo Pieng: Master of Composition, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore

1953 Four Artists to Bali, Singapore Art Society, Singapore
1955 Four Artists to Bali, UK
1965 Malaysian Art Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1966 Group Exhibition, Malaysian Art Exhibition, London, Cologne, Berlin and Hamburg