Cheong Soo Pieng (Singaporean, 1917-1983) The Red Tone, 1962

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Lot 26
Cheong Soo Pieng
(Singaporean, 1917-1983)
The Red Tone, 1962
HK$ 380,000 - 780,000
US$ 48,000 - 99,000

Lot Details
Cheong Soo Pieng (Singaporean, 1917-1983) The Red Tone, 1962 Cheong Soo Pieng (Singaporean, 1917-1983) The Red Tone, 1962
Cheong Soo Pieng (Singaporean, 1917-1983)
The Red Tone, 1962
signed with artist's monogram and dated, lower right; signed, dated, titled and numbered '11 THE RED TONE SooPieng 1962', on the reverse.
oil on canvas
71 x 91.5 cm. (28 x 36 in.)

Footnotes

  • 鍾泗濱 紅色基調 油彩畫布 一九六二年作

    Provenance:
    Redfern Gallery, United Kingdom
    Private Collection, United Kingdom

    Literature:
    Cheong Soo Pieng, United Kingdom: Redfern Gallery, 1963, unpaginated (listed as exhibit no. 11)

    Exhibited:
    Cheong Soo Pieng, Redfern Gallery, London, United Kingdom, 23 April – 17 May 1963


    "I keep my Chinese identity. The brushwork and colour of my paintings are Western, but the idea is Chinese. I absorb the ideas of Chinese calligraphy and landscape, and because I am Chinese, they are always in my mind." – Cheong Soo Pieng

    (Steinle, Peggy. 'Experimental Artist: Cheong Soo Pieng', Arts of Asia, July/August 1972 Vol. 2:4)

    "Paintings and sculpture don't always have to be beautiful, but the composition – that is the important quality, that must be right." – Cheong Soo Pieng

    (Steinle, Peggy. 'Experimental Artist: Cheong Soo Pieng', Arts of Asia, July/August 1972 Vol. 2:4)


    One of the most gifted artists of the Nanyang pioneers, Cheong Soo Pieng's artistic development had always been closely linked to his travels. He travelled to various parts of Southeast Asia and Europe, where he sought for visual sources to inspire the different periods of his artistic expression. The Red Tone was created during his time in Europe from 1961-1963, during which he absorbed the works of the European modernists and the classical masters.

    The Red Tone is a prime example of his work from this seminal period. Infusing elements from the genre of traditional Chinese landscape painting, with modernist abstraction, and the notion of the picturesque observed in the paintings from the English romantic painters, Cheong created an aesthetic that was truly his own. Cheong's artistic credo is unorthodox for a Chinese artist of Cheong's generation, and his ability to absorb inspiration from his environment while retaining and refining his own stylistic character reflects his exceptional ability to innovate.

    A majority of Cheong's early abstract paintings were founded on an idea of 'landscape' and nature, and his ink renderings of abstract European landscapes were precursors to these early abstractions. Only filled with washes of orange and crimson that resembles the colour field paintings of Mark Rothko, the painting's background is left empty, adhering to the Chinese ink painting tradition of leaving blank pictorial space. Cheong deliberately left these spaces to be filled only by the viewer's contemplation, and or what could possibly be. Laid on top of rich sunset tones, the foreground is demarcated with black paint that is quickly applied, and accented with splatters of paint in the primary colours – red, yellow and blue. The stunning luminosity achieved with the sensible colour play, along with texture and dimension achieved through the paint application, creates rhythm and dynamism upon an otherwise flattened plane.

    Having spent most of his time in London during his European sojourn, Cheong also encountered the works of Chinese artists living in Europe. One of the artists he met was Zao Wou-ki. Both artists shared similar challenges – the methods of portraying wind and light, of air loitering on the silent water surface and of space. Cheong's early abstract paintings exemplify his attempt to overcome these challenges that the two Chinese artists had, which marked his stylistic breakthrough. Both Cheong and Zao were given the opportunity to hold solo exhibitions at the renowned Redfern Gallery in Cork Street, London in 1963. Cheong exhibited a selection of works, including The Red Tone and received tremendous recognition and success.

    Achieving successful assimilation of the sensibilities of traditional Chinese ink painting within the medium of oil, The Red Tone achieves an ethereal rendering of the traditional subject of the landscape. Its composition keeps the overall composition in balance, leaving the viewers to marvel at its poetic simplicity.
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