Ng Eng Teng Collection

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Declining Man
1969
Ciment-fondu, paint, lacquer
19 x 75 x 32 cm

N1997-0001-297-0

Many of Ng's works express his compassion for human suffering, poverty and ill health. Declining Man is a heart wrenching personification of old age, with some exaggeration of the posture and facial expression to highlight the misery of man crippled by infirmity and loneliness.

"…[Declining Man represents] a stage and position we all reach when we age. This work, I think, has some reference to my early poor health when I was down and out. Subject matter like this is not popular at all but I just had to realise it, to get my feelings and emotions out of my system." (Ng Eng Teng, 1997)

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Fear II
1978
Ciment-fondu, paint, lacquer
50 x 56 x 51 cm

N1997-0001-322-0

Fear II embodies Ng's concern with themes of identity, belonging, basic human feelings and states of mind. The theme on fear and anxiety runs from the late 1970s, concurrently with the Mother-and-Child and Split series. Figures cringe in terror and anxious anticipation. The bodies are turned into themselves, with heads partially hidden within the crook of their arms.

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Singapore 150
1969
Ciment-fondu, paint, lacquer
110 x 48 x 48 cm

N1997-0001-361-0

Singapore 150 was created to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of Singapore. It celebrates the emergence of a nation in the powerful figure of a young man holding the pearl of the future. The artist was expressing pride in his country, the excitement and challenges of its extraordinary growth and its vision for the future. The sculpture is also a symbol of the nation's spirit of determination and will to succeed.

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Modesty
1986
Ciment-fondu, paint, lacquer
119 x 45 x 33 cm

N1997-0001-332-0

Modesty comments on perceptions of decorum and morality in our society. The stylised, curvilinear figure has truncated but recognisable elements. Omission of the upper sections of the arms brings attention to the lower arms and hands, especially their positioning to shield areas of the body which are perceived to be unsuitable for public view. The addition of a third hand to conceal the buttocks reinforces the artist's point about general definitions of modesty.

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Freedom Child
1978
Ciment-fondu, paint, lacquer
42 x 70 x 84 cm

N1997-0001-321-0

 

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Refugees (Flight II)
1981
Ciment-fondu, paint, lacquer
90 x 65 x 20 cm

N1997-0001-328-0

A spherical hanging sculpture with a child's face and limbs spread out in simulation of flight, Freedom Child is from a
series which Ng began in 1977. It was inspired by mass emigration and flight of people from Vietnam during the war. Suspended to allow motion, this sculpture on the one hand symbolises the desire to be free from oppression and captivity, and on the other hand portrays the free spirit and mischievous nature of children, even in the face of extreme hardship.

 

Refugees shows a family unit huddled together. The closely positioned faces and the fusion of the bodies into a single block suggest the family's determination to remain together as they flee from the horrors of war.  

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Torso (Rocker)
1973
Ciment-fondu, paint, lacquer
21 x 68 x 25 cm

N1997-0001-303-0

 

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Lovers II (Mobile)
1974
Ciment-fondu, paint, lacquer
29 x 36 x 36 cm

N1997-0001-312-0

Ng's range of sculptures which rock and roll depict the light-hearted and whimsical side of his character.

"When you make shapes with tiny bases, they start to move, so I thought why not allow movement? With a crescent base, they start to rock and if it's a completely spherical piece, you can also make them roll."  (Ng Eng Teng, 1988)

The roly-poly, upturned faces and abstracted torsos are derived from the transformation and simplification of the human body. They playfully rotate and oscillate to the touch, enticing viewers to interact with them. A few have spherical pellets serving either as moveable eyeballs or simply left within the hollow of the works to create rattling sounds during movement.

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Split III
1976
Ciment-fondu, brass sheet, paint, lacquer
53 x 84 x 33 cm

N1997-0001-316-0

Its angularity and use of metal with ciment fondu sets the Split series apart from the majority of works in the artist's oeuvre. This series came about when Ng witnessed the demolition of old shophouses in Chinatown during the mid 1970s to make way for development. Ng was deeply saddened by the destruction of this historical part of the city.

"It was like a split to the heart of man. Humanity, represented by the broken chips and textural surfaces of crumbling walls, was torn asunder and mankind reduced to a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes
the parts do not fit." (Ng Eng Teng, 1991)

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Portrait
1986
Ciment-fondu, paint, lacquer
84 x 67 x 29 cm

N1997-0001-331-0

Portrait reminds the viewer of missiles, in this case each precariously stacked above the other. Two wide angular slits on the uppermost piece resemble the human mouth, parted in speech.
"This piece is meant to symbolise the two faces of war: how war rages while negotiations for peace goes on. It is not meant to have a political message, but more of a humanistic one." (Ng Eng Teng, 1989).
A 2.7 metre tall version was commissioned for the Seoul Olympic Sculpture Park, Korea in 1988.

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Maxi
1969
Ciment-fondu, paint, lacquer
50 x 26 x 22 cm

N1997-0001-388-0

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Running Figure (maquette)
1985
Stoneware
12 x 11 x 7.5 cm

N1998-0001-151-0

This nude female figure, truncated at the limbs is an example of motion depicted in sculpture. The scale of the head is reduced but the facial expression is one of determination. In contrast to the head, the abdomen and thighs are overstated, drawing the viewer's gaze downwards and emphasising the purposeful, forward sauntering motion of the subject.

More than a decade after the creation of Maxi, Ng revisited the theme of representing motion in sculpture. By this time, the artist was intensely engrossed in experimenting with simplification and abstraction. Running Figure bears a trace of Maxi in the truncated limbs, but all facial and anatomical details evident in the earlier sculpture are eliminated. The work is rendered as a combination of cylindrical, conical and fragmented spherical forms.

"I see my work developing from a more realistic and elaborate to a more stylised and simplified expression … I am striving for this elusive and enigmatic balance [between expressiveness and simplicity] …" (Ng Eng Teng, 1991) 

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Prodigal Son
1980
Ciment-fondu, paint, lacquer 
58 x 83 x 48 cm

N1997-0001-326-0

Familiar with stories from the bible, Ng used biblical characters metaphorically for a few of his works. Prodigal Son personifies the trials and tribulations of youths who leave home following differences with their families. Unlike their biblical counterpart who decides to return home and is welcomed with open arms by a merciful father, the modern youth in a similar situation is more likely to be entangled in the problems and ills of urban society, wasting their lives away, without much hope of deliverance.

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Hostage
1981
Ciment-fondu, barbed wire, paint, lacquer
127 x 48 x 39 cm

N1997-0001-327-0

Hostage was created to commemorate the suffering endured by Americans held captive by terrorists in Teheran. The crisis started on 4th November 1979 and lasted 444 days. The barbed wire around the head of the figure (reminiscent of Christ's crown of thorns) signifies the physical and mental distress of the hostages; nevertheless they stood erect and unbowed despite their predicament. Ng's concerns with psychology and spiritual bondage are often reflected in sculptural shapes of tortured, tragic figures.

"No one is completely free. We are all bound in one way or another. Becoming too involved in business is a form of captivity, and not having enough money also makes helpless captives of men. Illness, old age, weakness in health or spirit - these are all forms of captivity." (Ng Eng Teng, 1997)

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Self Portrait

c. 1967
Oil on canvas
102 x 64 cm

N1997-0001-217-0

Preoccupied with issues on identity, self and the body, Ng treats himself as the subject and object of his art by consistently working on a series of pictures featuring the self. In painting his mirrored image, seen as an artistic and psychological act, these self portraits reflect a pervasive need for self definition – a journey searching for himself through his art.

Self Portrait depicts Ng in a sleeveless vest sitting in a sideway posture, available to the gaze of the beholder but showing a lack of engagement. The fiery orange colour of the sky and the dense drawing of the partial sphere and mountain deployed in the environment suggest the manner in which he views himself and the world he lives in that is turbulent and volatile with challenges ahead of him that is uncertain and unpredictable.

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Still life with Apples, Oranges and Mangoes
1960
Oil on board
48 x 61 cm

N1997-0001-187-0

Ng's teachers at NAFA included Chen Wen Hsi, Cheong Soo Pieng, Chen Chong Swee, and Georgette Chen. While the stylistic influence of his mentors are palpable in many of his student paintings, this still life composition demonstrates an instance of the student's stylistic independence. The arrangement combines representational interest with abstract devices in angular structures and geometric forms. 

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Reclining Figure in Bikini
c. 1959-1961
Oil on masonite board
40.5 x 81.5 cm

N1997-0001-269-0

Ng's paintings were largely produced in the early of the 1960s when he was an art student at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) where still life and figure studies, portrait and landscape paintings constituted the academic programme.

In Reclining Figure in Bikini, care is demonstrably given to naturalistic anatomical study. The work was done in a life modelling session, and of the occasion Ng recounts: "Life drawing is a subject I had always wanted to do before I left NAFA. We were desperate for life drawing in NAFA but were not allowed; the nearest we had was when a European lady volunteered to pose in Bikini, reclining and facing the wall; we only painted her back view. And imagine, we had to close all doors and windows."

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Torso-to-face
1997
Colour pencil & watercolour on paper
75 x 55 cm
N1998-0001-027-0

S1959-0010-002-0

The playful Torso-to-Face sculptural series emerged in the mid 1990s from Ng's life drawing sessions with Group 90. Ng's account on the inspirational process is illuminating:     

"I have benefited from it in that it has given me a new theme – the Torso-to-Face series – which came about from doing life drawings. Of course, I wasn't consciously expecting this to happen when I first got back to life drawing. But at each session I see an image of the face looking at me from the body, and this impression gets more intense each time." 

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Contentment (Maquette)(left)
undated
Ciment fondu, paint, lacquer
37.5 × 40 × 14 cm
Base: 27 x 31 x 31 cm

N1997-0001-402-0
N1997-0001-401-0

 

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Balance (Maquette)
1982
Fort Canning Park, Singapore

N1997-0001-411-0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ng Eng Teng
Spirit of Man (Maquette)
1984
Ciment fondu, painted
Impressed: square seal
39 x 14.5 x 14.5 cm
Finished work in ciment fondu, commissioned by CAAS for Changi International Airport, Terminal I, Singapore
N1997-001-464-0

N1997-001-465-0

Ng created a number of public art generally centred on his interest in humanist themes and human figures. His most significant and iconic piece of public work is Mother and Child, commissioned for Far East Shopping Centre, currently located in front of Orchard Parade Hotel, as a cultural marker in Orchard Road.

A series of maquettes from his public commissioning were donated to the museum's collection. These maquettes are small scale models which act as drafts when the artist presented them to his commissioners or clients on the proposed design of his works. They are seen as how the finished public art will fit into the proposed outdoor sites.

Contentment and Wealth are companion pieces commissioned by Development Bank of Singapore for the atrium of the shopping centre Plaza Singapura in 1974. In 1997, the sculptures were donated to NUS and installed in Kent Ridge campus. Its current location is now in front of the University Cultural Centre at NUS.

Balance is a public art located at ASEAN Sculpture Garden just outside the Fort Canning Park. It was commissioned by the Committee on Culture and Information (COCI), in-conjunction with the ASEAN Sculpture Symposium held in 1981. Ng was selected as one of the five distinguished sculptors from the member countries. As a public work, Balance is seen as a rising poise of circular and cylindrical forms symbolically reflecting intricate equilibrium of regional cooperation.

Spirit of Man represents different aspects of man which was commissioned for the departure lounge at the Changi Airport. The works were sponsored by United Overseas bank and Shell.  Both companion sculptures are placed on the east and west side of the lounge. The form symbolised strength, confidence, perseverance, ambition, reliability and accommodation. The latter form translates adventurism, movement, versatility, innovation, dynamism and foresight.

 

 

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