Siew Hock Meng
B. Johor, 1942
Far Away, 1989
Signed and dated “1989 Meng” on lower left
Pastel on paper
48 x 66 cm
Provenance Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur
Illustrated in Christie’s Singapore (31 March 1996) South East Asian Pictures, Watercolours and Drawings Sale catalogue – Lot 145
RM 25,000 – RM 55,000
Born in 3 April 1942, Johor, Malaysia, Siew Hock Meng graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1961 and has been painting since. An artist based in Singapore, he was awarded the National Day Medal for Fine Arts in 1971 and the award for Visual Arts Creation, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Alumni Association Singapore in 1981 and 1984.
Considered one of the most important artists in the region, Siew uses oils, acrylic and pastels in his work, and he is believed to be most adept at pastel painting. He is an expert in portrait painting capable of using pastels with very precise and skilled application of colours. He creates vivid portraits with just a few dabs and strokes, leaving the spectators in awe to admire the lifelike rendition.
Siew also demonstrates maturity and superb control and mastery in his figure paintings. His creations in this area, with a high degree of technical proficiency, bring out his visions. Apart from his fascination for the vibrant colours and cultural diversity of the tropics, he expresses a deep concern for the social and environmental realities behind them. His observations and reflections are especially poignant in the many thoughtful and contemplative landscapes.
In 1975, Siew was invited to run an art gallery in Singapore by a businessman for whom he had painted a portrait in Kemaman. His fame as a portrait painter gradually grew and spread in the region especially in Taiwan where he often spent months painting on commission. Not content to restrict himself to portraiture, Siew began to explore a wider range of subjects and themes such as human figures and life and culture of places like Bali, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Myanmar and Cambodia.
This great master of super-realist figurative painting is also the first mentor of Malaysian watercolourist Chang Fee Ming, who spent a fair amount of his time in his early years painting with him. Apart from his fascination for human forms, vibrant tropical colours and artistic and cultural diversity of the region, he often shows a deeper concern for the social, cultural and environmental realities that people in the region have to face.