Siew Hock Meng
Gaudily Dressed 1997
oil on canvas, 65x57cm

Siew Hock Meng: Paintings/Tellings is the first major event of Art Retreat following closely the inaugural exhibition which opened in December last year.

Singaporean Siew Hock Meng is one of the most important artists in the region. The exhibition is especially significant because he has never held any solo show in Singapore before nor has he had one of such a scale anywhere else. It will certainly attract much attention from art circles in Singapore and abroad.

There are more than 60 works in pastels and oils, which Siew created during the 1990s and 2000s.

Though better known for his portraiture, Siew in this exhibition offers a rare insight into his talent in painting a variety of subjects such as human figures, landscapes and the culture and life of peoples in the region. He expresses his passion for these subjects in his rich and eloquent pictorial language, which is highly nuanced in colour and texture.

His nudes are seductively sensuous often evoking a mystic eroticism especially as characters in legends of Southeast Asia . He injects into the images in his landscapes allegorical meanings rather than merely painting pictures of scenic beauty.

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.

About the Artist

Siew Hock Meng was born in Johore in 1942 and educated in Singapore . He dropped out of school and joined the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. But after one year he found himself more interested in aesthetics than painting. He abandoned art and became a rubber tapper in Malaya so that he had more time to read. In Kemaman he discovered Marxist-Leninist literature and became a Labour Party activist for a few years.

In 1975 Siew returned to Singapore to run an art gallery and did portraiture for which he gained a growing reputation in the region. He then began to explore other subjects and themes such as human figures and life and culture of Asia where he has traveled widely. His experiences in Bali , Myanmar , India and Cambodia have significantly enriched his art.