Ng Eng Teng's New Image

Chai Wai Hon

It has almost been two years when Ng Eng Teng put up his last exhibition. Since then he has been kept busy designing murals and doing commissions on portraiture. To date his commissions include one Pipes and Petals for Esso, and two murals Asian Symphony and Tropical Rhapsody for the Garden Hotel in Balmoral Road. In between working on his commissions, Eng Teng is keeping up with his research on an ever recurring theme -- his pot-bellied shape.

Eng Teng, like the typical modern artist that he is, does not believe in creating the isolated masterpiece. He works in series. This gives him a chance to explore his subject in depth. His latest series is a direct result of what went on before. The image of his pot-bellied woman has undergone a complete change. What was once confined to that part of the human anatomy that gave rise to a state of perpetual 'pregnancy' in his sculptured form has now been completely transformed. The rotund belly has become a head with an upturned face. The features are simplified almost to abstraction, and colour is added to give it an air of gaiety. Rock it if you will, the temptation is too great to resist. This concept in sculpture where the viewer is encouraged to participate in a work of art is an attempt to enable the viewer to identify himself with the object in front of him. Sculpture should Dot be such a serious business as to leave no room for the whimsical and the light-hearted. The world is serious enough as it is without our adding on to it.

Eng Teng's new sculptural form is therefore a welcome relief. It is a serious piece of work in that it was born of years of hard work and experiments. The young and the old, the serious and the frivolous, will find in Eng Teng's rocking faces a kindred spirit to match their own.

The sculpture of Ng Eng Teng belongs not to just one segment of our society but to all. The artist's enquiring mind has once again come up with something to stimulate and titillate our senses. By the same token that his creativeness has invented something new for this exhibition it can safely be anticipated that Eng Teng's next show will feature something just as exciting. What further transformation will the rounded belly take? That is a question that even the artist himself cannot answer.


Sculpture, ng eng teng, Singapore, 1972, unpaginated.

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Last updated: 11 January 2001