Modernism Embodied
ART REPUBLIK|Dec - Feb 2018

Defining the works of Cheong Soo Pieng

Wang Zineng

The history of 20th century modern art is a history of reaction and revision, overcoming and superseding. Throughout the whole extent of their artistic careers, only a few artists can truly claim to possess and embody the totality of the spirit of modernism.

The Chinese émigré artist Cheong Soo Pieng is arguably one such artist. Born in Xiamen and educated in the art academy in Xiamen from 1933, as well as briefly in Shanghai in the mid-1930s before the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war cut short his education, Cheong migrated to Singapore upon the end of World War II. Working in the culturally barren and artistically inhospitable environment of a post-war tiny nation struggling through national independence and economic development, the odds were stacked against Cheong. But it is perhaps in the face of a comparatively indifferent larger environment that an artist of conviction arises.

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