Cheong Soo Pieng
Cheong Soo Pieng was born in Amoy, China in 1917 before moving to Singapore, and is arguably the most successful 1st generation Singaporean artist to date, with his auction records positioning him as the most commercially successful Singaporean artist. He passed away from heart failure on the 1st July 1983 (at the age of just 66).
Cheong Soo Pieng was one of the founding fathers of the Nanyang style of art, and is particularly well known for his paintings of Malay women, depicted with elongated limbs and almond shaped faces, common with the Nanyang style of painting. This style first began formulation after a group trip to Bali in 1952, with fellow artists Liu Kang, Chen Wen Hsi, and Chen Chong See. He formulated his distinctive style of painting Malay women after a later trip to the Dayak longhouses in Borneo in 1959.
Having taught at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (including artists such as Tay Bak Koi) he has helped shape and influence many of the 2nd and 3rdgeneration artists in Singapore and his name is synonymous with ‘Singaporean Art’ with his works regularly fetching high sale prices in Auctions across South East Asia (particularly locally in Singapore, and overseas in Hong Kong).
Cheong began his art education at the Xiamen Academy of Fine Art in 1933, and graduated in 1936, moving to study further at the Xinhua Academy of Fine Art in Shanghai. His studies were cut short however due to the breakout of the Sino-Japanese War, with the school itself destroyed by the Japanese in 1938.
In 1945 Cheong Soo Pieng left China for Hong Kong, and then further relocated to Singapore in 1946 where he began his 20 year stint as a lecturer at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, helping to drive the development of modernism in the early 20th century in Singapore.