Being innovative while using traditional media is no easy task. Cheah Thien Soong absorbs his South-East Asian surroundings to express the brilliance of ordinary things.
At the head of the Neo-Nanyang movement to promote Chinese ink tradition is Cheah Thien Soong @ Cheah Mei. At 71, he has been reinventing and revitalising the genre with a contemporary East-West fusion, infusing it with a Malaysian flavour. He relishes the heady glory of a triple back-to-back Retrospective that started in Singapore, moved on to Johor and ended in KL.
This Retrospective was accompanied by the publication of two comprehensive hardcover books: a 400-page monograph and a 302- page book on his sketches featuring portraits of ordinary people, nude figures, mendicant monks, towering trees (as symbols of life and its struggles, and also as a compositional device), rocky outcrop flanges (Nature’s architecture reminiscent of the stone forests of Kunming), clouds, water, shrubs, bonsai and his alter ego – the crake water-birds.
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