Teng Nee Cheong (born 1951, died 2013) was a multiple award-winning artist based in Singapore. His work is known for its distinct visual aesthetics which employ vibrant colours and Southeast Asian cultural motifs, drawing symbols from spiritual faiths such as Buddhism, Hinduism and even Balinese mythology. The artist admitted to being influenced by Asian mural paintings and Persian miniatures, especially the stylisation of botanic depictions. He was also inspired by the secessionist paintings of Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt (1862-1918).
Teng Nee Cheong studied at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore.
His paintings are bold in color and composition but have gentle, lyrical themes. He created endless combinations with a few motifs, especially flowers, textile patterns, and unique positions of figures. He also ventured boldly into charcoal drawings of the nude human form and was a pioneer in homoerotic art in Singapore.
Teng's bright colours are specifically chosen and juxtaposed for maximum effect. They are more than a mere means to an end. Towards the later part of his career, he said that his colours were getting not only more intense, but darker and heavier. He observed that during a full moon, the shadows of trees and plants take on a new and very different character.
Unusual compositional elements accentuate the desired aesthetic. For example, a vase barely fits into the top of a painting in order to fully show the traditional cloth that lies underneath. Objects appear to defy gravity. The focus in his paintings thus turns towards structure and colour.
The exuberance of Teng's paintings seemed to be so different from the soft-spoken and rather shy artist that he was. Someone once commented that his paintings were so happy, although the implication was that he did not seem to be a happy person, he remembered. He did not want to paint sad things.
Ministry of Culture special award (Singapore, 1978)
Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Alumni Association creative award (Singapore, 1982)
Singapore Art Society Tan Tze Chor Art Award (1991)
Phillip Morris Group (ASEAN, 1993, 1995, 1996)
National Museum Art Gallery (Singapore)
Shenn's Fine Art Gallery (Singapore)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs ( Singapore)
The Private Museum (Singapore)
National Museum Art Gallery (Singapore, 1980, 1984, 1991)
Le Grand Palais (Paris, France, 1987
Hongkong Arts Centre (1998)
New York Art Expo (U.S.A., 1989)
ASEAN Traveling Exhibitions (1989)
Tropenmuseum (Amsterdam, Holland, 1998)
Shenn's Fine Art Gallery (Singapore, 1992)
Centre for Strategic and International Studies(Jakarta, Indonesia, 1996).
Blk 9, Upper Boon Keng Road, #12-954, Singapore 380009; Tel: (65) 6748 7259; HP: (65) 9678 7391; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A book entitled, "Teng Nee Cheong: Those the Gods Love Grow Mightier", was written by Lindy Poh. It offers a refreshing insight on the life, works and innermost thoughts of Teng that span a period of 40 years.
Teng passed away from nasopharyngeal carcinoma in 2013.
In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of Teng's passing, The Private Museum (51 Waterloo Street, #02-06, Singapore 187969) proudly presented an exhibition entitled EMBODIMENT|SENTIENCE, featuring a selection of charcoal works between the 1970s and the 2000s from the collection of the artist’s estate.
Renowned for his impressive oil and pastel paintings, Teng’s intimate charcoal works have hardly been in the limelight, much less exhibited comprehensively. Far from just preliminary sketches, the exhibition marked the first extensive showcase of the artist’s charcoal drawings, a result of more than three decades of working with life models in his studio and abroad.
The exhibition explored themes such as dualities, sensualities, desires and perceptions of the human body through the artist’s inquisitive lens and the stark lines encapsulated by the alluring nudes. Deeply personal and perhaps even provocative, EMBODIMENT|SENTIENCE attempted to lightly trace Teng’s art practice compelled by his fascination with and reverence for, the human figure.
On 6 October 2018, a representative from the artist’s estate, Suzie Teng, the artist’s sister, held a conversation with Kim, a male life model who worked extensively with the artist in the last decade of his practice. The rare dialogue, chaired by The Private Museum's Aaron Teo and open to the public, offered an opportunity to understand the processes behind Teng’s art practice and more importantly, a chance to remember the remarkable man.
- Lindy Poh, "Teng Nee Cheong: Those the Gods Love Grow Mightier", ISBN-13: 978-9810860530, ISBN-10: 9810860536 .
- Teng Yen Hui, "Queering Perspectives in Singapore Art in the 1970s to 1990s: Subjectivity and Desire in Figuration", Master of Arts (M.A.) dissertation, Asian Art Histories, Lasalle College of the Arts, 2016 – 2017.