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(Singaporean, 1917-1983)
Kenyan Orchestra
signed in Chinese (upper right); signed and dated 'Soo Pieng 1968' and titled
'Kenyan Orchestra' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
99 x 81.3 cm. (39 x 32 in.)
Painted in 1968
Private Collection, Malaysia

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Lot Essay

Sharing not only a geographical affinity, by the late 60s, the artists of Singapore and Malaysia began to turn their attention towards a concern with capturing the essence of life and community at home. The focus on figuration in the work of the artists Cheong Soo Pieng, Khoo Sui Hoe, and Tay Bak Koi are indicative of the experimentation and innovation in Southeast Asian art of the period.

Kenyan Orchestra (Lot 257) is an example of the way Cheong Soo Pieng continued to develop his characteristic style of figuration. Featuring three musicians in varying degrees of abstraction, Kenyan Orchestra recalls Picasso's many cubist guitar paintings. The orchestra players all seem to be a part of a single entity. The individual musicians are indistinguishable from each other, and their arms and legs meld together to achieve an interesting pictorial composition. The figures are seemingly incomplete, and yet maintain a distinct visual harmony with each other as well as within the muted backdrop of brown shades.

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