My perfect weekend


WHO Yeo Tze Yang, 27, is a self-taught artist known for paintings which depict elements of daily life that are often overlooked.

His work Ah Ma's Kitchen won the silver prize in the UOB Painting of the Year award in 2016.

Yeo graduated from the National University of Singapore as a South-east Asian Studies major in 2019. He finds inspiration in the intersection between "big picture" issues such as nationhood, modernity and collective memory, and the everyday lives of ordinary people.

His works are collected in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, Denmark, Britain and the United States. As a full-time artist, I do not have a fixed Monday-to-Friday routine, so most of my weekends are very much like my weekdays.

I get up, have breakfast, exercise, have lunch, relax for a while and then take the MRT from Bedok to my art studio in Tai Seng industrial estate.

I am usually at the studio by about 2pm. I change into my painting "rags", boil a kettle of tea and put on a podcast or play my favourite music, which ranges from classic rock to ambient sounds.

From there, it is full swing into action in synchronisation with the happenings around me in the neighbourhood - the drilling and pounding of a construction site nearby, the forklifts zooming around at the warehouse across the road and workers packing boxes onto trucks.

Besides toilet breaks or the minor distraction of cat memes on Facebook, I stare at the canvas, mix my colours and paint all the way till around 6 or 7pm.

I then head to a nearby coffee shop for dinner. Usually, it is something simple like economy rice or stir-fried noodles, washed down with a cup of kopi-C kosong. I then return to the studio and continue working.

But I do not spend all my weekends like a hermit. Occasionally, I accompany my mum to see a new art exhibition in town or have a nice kopi and dessert with her.

At other times, I catch up with friends. With the closure of international borders, my friends and I have been a bit more adventurous in recent months. We have been checking out places around Singapore such as parks and hiking trails, always followed by good food and beer.

A fleeting moment captured with my camera while out with friends may just end up as the subject of my next painting.

My art and life have always been inseparable, which is why I do not mind working on weekends. Instead, I see it as a "perfect weekend" if I am still pottering about in my studio, being able to do both what I love and spend time with the people I love.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2021, with the headline My perfect weekend. Subscribe