Singapore artist marks 60 years with Asian tour

Painter Yeo Hoe Koon with his modern abstract in oil artwork, Golden Earth.
Painter Yeo Hoe Koon with his modern abstract in oil artwork, Golden Earth.PHOTO: YEO AN LUN

To mark his 60 years as an artist, Singapore second-generation painter Yeo Hoe Koon is staging an Asian tour of his works which started at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) here this month.

A total of 90 modern abstract works in oil and Chinese ink by the 81-year-old painter are on display.

They will move to Jakarta in February, before going to Beijing, Taipei and Kuala Lumpur later next year.

"We are also planning to go to Shanghai and discussions are ongoing," says Ms Allison Liu, 46, one of the show's two curators. The other curator is Mr Huang Du, artistic director of the Beijing Today Art Museum.

Ms Liu says her art research institute, Song Art Foundation, is organising the show with MoCA, Linda Gallery and Hai Hui Art Gallery because it is the artist's first retrospective exhibition of sorts after he started painting six decades ago.

  • VIEW IT / INDULGENCE - YEO HOE KOON ASIA TOUR EXHIBITION

  • WHERE: Museum of Contemporary Art, 27A Loewen Road

    WHEN: Till Jan 6 next year, 10am to 7pm daily

    ADMISSION: Free

"Yeo has held more than 30 solo shows since his first in Paris in 1961 and taken part in 80 other group exhibitions, but none showed his works over his entire career from the early 1960s to the beginning of this year, which is what we want to do," she says.

Hainan-born Yeo graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1957 and the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in France in 1961. He returned to Singapore in the early 1970s to start a family and has been a full-time painter for more than 50 years. He has three children - two sons in their late 30s and a daughter in her late 20s.

The earliest painting in the show is a 1961 oil painting, Flower On Greyish Green And Red Table, which is on loan from a Malaysian collector.

Yeo is a contemporary of famous Chinese modern painters such as Zao Wou Ki (1921-2013) and Chu Teh Chun (1920-2014), when they were studying and painting in France in the late 1960s. He was among the few Singapore second- generation artists who furthered their art education in Europe and created an impact on the local art scene on their return.

Ms Liu says: "Like Zao and Chu, the artists from China, Yeo was also influenced by the modern art movement in Europe, particularly French masters such as Nicolas de Stael (1914-1955), when he was in France."

The 90 works by Yeo in the show are divided into two main categories - his early works and modern abstract ones since the early 1960s, and those he painted in modern ink since the 1990s. Only selected works are available for sale as many are on loan from collectors.

Yeo, who is recovering from recent heart surgery, says: "I am grateful to the organisers for staging the show because this is an exhibition of my entire life's works."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore artist marks 60 years with Asian tour'. Print Edition | Subscribe