Xiamen-born Cheong Soo Pieng began his art education at age 16 at the Xiamen Fine Art Academy under Lim Hak Tai. In 1936, to further his studies, Cheong enrolled in Xinhua Academy of Fine Arts in Shanghai briefly before returning to teach at his alma mater. In 1946, Cheong relocated to Singapore and found employment at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, which was headed and founded by his ex-tutor Lim Hak Tai. Cheong inspired many young artists during his 14-year employment at the academy before retiring to be a full-time artist in 1959. Cheong was part of the group of five artists who embarked on a landmark trip to Bali in 1952 to portray the beauty of Southeast Asia.
Cheong is known for his portrayal of women with long, slender limbs. Scholars have argued that the artist drew inspiration for such aesthetics and form from the wayang figures and puppets he encountered during his travels to Indonesia. Completed in 1980, Bali Girls - Unfinished presents Cheong’s unique painting style that depicts women as elegant figures. At the same time, this work highlights Cheong’s later interest in adopting the pointillist style, a technique that dominated his figurative works in the 1970-80s. This oil painting captures the sights and essence of Balinese women in their traditional garments going about their day.