Thomas Yeo



Singapore Infopedia

Thomas Yeo (b. 22 April 1936, Singapore–) is one of Singapore's prominent second-generation artists. Since the 1960s, his work has been infused with Western ideas although he never completely abandoned the images and impressions of Asia, and featured these prominently in his art pieces. Conferred the Cultural Medallion in 1984, Yeo continues his active participation in the art community in Asia.1

Early life
Yeo’s interest in the arts began early in Tao Nan Primary School, where he was encouraged by his art teacher, Sim Kwang Teck, to paint.2 He pursued a formal education in the arts, first at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (1958–60), then furthered his studies in London at the Chelsea School of Art (1960–61), and lastly at Hammersmith College of Art & Architecture (1961–64). Upon graduation, Yeo taught at the Islington Green School and the Spencer Park School in London, focusing on experimental art.3

Artistic style
Landscapes are a prominent and continual aspect of Yeo’s art works, which also portray images gleaned from his many travels. For Yeo, who is described as an abstract artist, abstraction and representation have been abiding features, reflecting his pictorial world that is multi-layered and multi-dimensional. Yeo uses the paintbrush although he had gravitated towards mixed media collages by incorporating materials such as paper, metal, synthetic and industrial products into his paintings.His artworks displayed from 2006 to 2009, for instance, were acrylic on canvas and gouache on rice papers.5 Singaporean poet and academic, Edwin Thumboo, has written a poem, titled “Yeo Landscapes”, about Yeo’s work.6


Supporting the arts
Yeo has served on numerous arts-related committees and juries over the years. For instance, he was Chairman of Shell Discovery Art (1986–2002), and advisor and judge for the ASEAN Art Awards (1994–2004). He also actively promoted the arts through the publication of coffee-table books which documented local and regional art, such as Southeast Asian Art – A New Spirit 7 and Change: 20 Singapore Artists.8 For his contributions to the visual arts in Singapore, Yeo received the Cultural Medallion Award in 1984.

Education9
1958–1960:
 Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore.

1960–1961: Chelsea School of Art, London, United Kingdom.
1961–1964: Hammersmith College of Art & Architecture, London, United Kingdom.

Selected solo exhibitions
1960: Watercolours, Oils and Chinese Ink, Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Singapore.10

1963: Malaysian Landscapes, Cathay Gallery, London, United Kingdom.
1966: The New ImageNational Library, Singapore.
1967: Asian Themes, Commonwealth Institute, London, United Kingdom.
1968: New Nature, National Library, Singapore.
1969: Abstract Landscapes, National Library, Singapore.
1969: Recent Works, Cultural Centre, Singapore.
1970: Mixed Media, Galleri II, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
1970: New Paintings, National Library, Singapore.
1971: Seascapes and Landscapes, National Library, Singapore.
1972: Aluminium Reliefs and New Paintings, National Library, Singapore.
1973: Images of Asia, National Library, Singapore.
1973: Poetry in Landscapes, Raya Gallery, Melbourne, Australia.
1974: Recent Landscapes and Abstract Acrylics, National Library, Singapore.
1974: Images of Nature, Raya Gallery, Melbourne, Australia.
1974: Visions of Asia, Skinner Gallery, Perth, Australia.
1975: New Paintings, National Library, Singapore.
1975: New Nature, Raya Gallery, Melbourne, Australia.
1976: Recent Works, National Library, Singapore.
1976: Landscapes and Abstract Collages, Raya Gallery, Melbourne, Australia.
1977: Recent Landscapes and Collages, National Library, Singapore.
1977: Nature in Art, Raya Gallery, Melbourne, Australia.
1978: Recent Paintings and Collages, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1979: Asian Accent, Raya Gallery, Melbourne, Australia.
1980: New Works, Raya Gallery, Melbourne, Australia.
1981: Nature Series, Raya Gallery, Melbourne, Australia.
1986: Landscapes and Abstract Citiscapes, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1987: Asian Landscapes and Collages, ZB Gallery, Vienna, Austria.
1987: Mixed Media Landscapes and Collages, Sparkasse Art Gallery, Waidhofen, Austria.
1987: Modern Asian Landscapes, Melnikow Gallery, Heidelberg, Germany.
1988: Continuation, Hyatt Regency, Singapore.11
1989: Recent Paintings, Galleri Ambrosia, Copenhagen, Denmark.12
1992: Moving Colours 1988–1992, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.13
1996: Thomas Yeo 4 Years Journey, Takashimaya Gallery, Singapore.14
1997: 
Thomas Yeo: A Retrospective, Singapore Art MuseumSingapore.15

2000: Thomas Yeo: Four Decades, Leal Senado Bulding, Provincial Municipal Council of Macau, Macau SAR.
2002: Beyond Tradition (art exhibition cum workshop), Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
2003: Beyond Tradition (art exhibition cum workshop), National Faculty of Fine Arts, Vientiane, Laos.
2005: Thomas Yeo: Contrasting Images, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore.16
2007: Thomas Yeo: Reflections. A Fundraising Art Exhibition for The Substation, Singapore.17
2009: Thomas Yeo: Recent Works 2006–2009, Artfolio Gallery, Singapore.18
2013: Thomas Yeo: Recapturing. The SubstationSingapore.19

2018: Thomas Yeo – Now & Then: New Paintings and Works from his collection, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore.20

Selected group exhibitions
1962: Young Commonwealth Artists, R.B.A. Gallery, London, United Kingdom.21
1963: Young Artists of Promise, Heals Gallery, London, United Kingdom.
1965: Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London, United Kingdom.
1967: Four Painters from the Commonwealth, represented Singapore at the Brighton Arts Festival, Brighton, United Kingdom.
1967: Exhibition with Keith Vaughan, John Piper, Terry Frost and Six other British painters, Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford, United Kingdom.
1968Oriental Theme, Grosvenor Gallery, London, United Kingdom.
1968: Royal Commonwealth Centenary Art Exhibition, City Art Gallery, Bristol, United Kingdom.
1968: Young Modern Painters, Oxford Gallery, Oxford, United Kingdom.
1968: 17th Annual Art Exhibition, National Museum, Cardiff, Wales.
1969: Thirteen Modern Artists: University of Singapore, Singapore.
1969: ASTA Convention, Contemporary Sculpture Centre, Tokyo, Japan.
1969: Twentieth Anniversary Art ExhibitionVictoria Memorial Hall, Singapore.
1969: Grand Art Exhibition, Victoria Memorial Hall, Singapore.
1969–1982St. Andrews Mission Hospital Charity Exhibitions, Singapore
1970: PATA Conference, New Zealand.
1970: 21st Annual Art Exhibition, Victoria Memorial Hall, Singapore.
1971: Artists Trio, Galaxy Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
1971: Jetron Art Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan.
1971: ISPAA Group Show, Seah Gallery, Singapore.
1971: Six Young Contemporaries, Tang Chou Gallery, Singapore.
1971: Five Young Artists, 5 Star Gallery, Singapore.
1971: Inaugural Exhibition, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.
1972: ISPAA Group Shows, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Japan.
1972: Adelaide Arts Festival, Lidum Gallery, Adelaide, Australia.
1972: Singapore 12 Top Artists, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.
1973: Four Young Artists, British Council, Bangkok, Thailand.
1973: ASEAN Touring Art Exhibition, Art Galleries, ASEAN Countries.
1976: Moomba Asian Art Show, Melbourne, Australia.
1976: Inaugural ExhibitionNational Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1977: Moomba Asian Art Show, Melbourne, Australia.
1978: Exhibition of Contemporary ArtSingapore Festival of Arts: National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1979: Two Asian Artists, Solander Gallery, Canberra, Australia.
1980: ASEAN Paintings and Photography Exhibition, ASEAN Countries.
1980: Contemporary Singapore Painting, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong.
1980: Contemporary Asian Art Show, Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan.
1982: Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Singapore Festival of Arts: National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1982: New Format, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1982: 3rd ASEAN Exhibition of Painting and Photography, ASEAN Countries.
1983: New Images ‘83, Modern Art Society Exhibition, Singapore.
1984: 25 Years of Art in Singapore, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1984: Singapore Art, a Decade 1974-84, Singapore Festival of Arts: National Museum Art Gallery.
1984: 4th ASEAN Exhibition of Painting and Photography, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1985: Second Contemporary Asian Art Show, Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan.
1986: Asian Contemporary Art, Singapore Festival of Arts, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1986: Seoul Contemporary Asian Art Show, National Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, Korea.
1987: Centenary Art Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1988: Singapore Contemporary Artists, Hong Kong Art Centre, Hong Kong.
1988: Singapore Artists, Sogo Art Galleries, Yokohama, Kobe, Sapporo, Japan.
1988: The Second Decade, Masterpieces from Private Collections, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1989: Twenty Singapore Artists for New York, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1989: New York Art Expo Exhibition, Jacob K Javits Convention Centre, New York, USA.
1989: 1st Bru-Sin Art Exhibition, Negara Brunei Darussalam, Brunei.
1989–1991: Contemporary Art in Singapore, Where East Meets West, Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam; Deutsche Bank AG, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Nurenberg, Mannheim, Groningen and Glasgow.
1990: Modern Art Travels East-West, Corporate Collections from Singapore and the Netherlands, World Trade Centre, Rotterdam; Empress Place Museum, Singapore.
1990: 2nd Bru-Sin Art Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1990: Singapore Artists Speak, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1991: 11 Singapore Artists for New York Art Expo, Jacob K Javits Convention Centre, New York, USA.
1991 : Many in One, 25 Years of Art from Singapore, Meridian House International, Washington DC, USA.
1991: Change: 20 Singapore Artists a Decade of their Work, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1992: 6th Asian International Art Exhibition, Tagawa Museum of Art, Japan.
1992: ASEAN Selection, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1992: 7th Asian International Art Exhibition, Bandung Museum of Art, Bandung, Indonesia.
1993: New Space Art Exhibition, Fine Art Gallery, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
1993: 8th Asian International Art Exhibition, Fukuoka City Art Museum & Tagawa City Art Museum, Japan.
1993: Singapore: Places, Poems, Paintings, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1994: Singapore Contemporary Art, Galeria del Leal Senado, Macau.
1994: 9th Asian International Art Exhibition, National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan.
1995: Modern Art Society 30th Anniversary Exhibition, Riverwalk Galleria, Singapore.
1995: 10th Asian International Art Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1996: 5+5, Maybank Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
1996: 11th Asian International Art Exhibition, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines.
1997: 12th Asian International Art Exhibition, National Art Museum, Macau.
1997: Self-Portraits of the Artists, Modern Art Society Exhibition, UOB Plaza 1, Singapore.
1998: Modern Art Society Exhibition, Sichuan Art Museum, Chengdu, China.
1998: 4 Perspectives-Art Exhibition, National Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand.
1999: 13th Asian International Art Exhibition, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan.
1999: NAFA Cross-Century Art Exhibition, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Selegie Art Gallery, Singapore.
2000: St. Andrews Mission Hospital Charity ExhibitionSingapore Tourism Board, Singapore.
2000: Different Eyes, Different Views, Modern Art Society Exhibition, Artfolio Gallery, Singapore.
2000: Artists Against Drug Abuse, Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association Charity Art Exhibition, The Pavilion, Far East Square, Singapore.
2001: Time and Space, Modern Art Society 37th Anniversary Exhibition, ARTrium, MITA Building, Singapore.
2002: 17th Asian International Art Exhibition, Daejeon Municipal Museum of Art, Korea.
2006: Important Second-Generation Artists Exhibition, DLR Gallery, Singapore.
2006: Spectrum ’06, Telok Kurau Studios, Singapore.
2006: 20th Asian International Art Exhibition, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore.
2007: Summer Soiree, Artfolio Gallery, Raffles Hotel Arcade, Singapore.
2008: Fresh! Addition Exhibition, Artfolio Gallery, Raffles Hotel Arcade, Singapore.
2009: Nanyang 70 years after, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore.
2010: Abstraction, Artfolio Gallery, Raffles Hotel Arcade, Singapore.22
2010: Celebrating Asian Art, Artfolio Gallery, Raffles Hotel Arcade, Singapore.23
2015: Siapa nama kamu? Art in Singapore since the 19th century, DBS Singapore Gallery, National Gallery Singapore.24
2016:
 Cultural Medallion Visual Arts 1979–2015, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore.25

2016: Early Singapore Artworks, Larasati Modern and Contemporary Art Auction, Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza, Singapore.26
2017:
Transcend – 50 years of Singapore Modern Art, Visual Arts Centre, Singapore.27


Selected commissioned works
28

Red Lion Restaurant, Richmond, Surrey, United Kingdom.
Rank Xerox Ltd, Singapore.
Ministry of National Development, Singapore.
Singapore Science Centre, Omni-Theatre, Singapore.
Pico Art International Pte. Ltd., Singapore.
Istana Negara, Singapore.
Singapore Press Holdings, Singapore.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore.

Awards and achievements
1961–1964: Lee Foundation Study Award, Singapore.29

1970: Second Prize, Instant Asia Art Competition, Singapore.
1971: First Prize, SIA Mural Competition, Singapore.
1983: Second Prize, UOB Painting of the Year Competition, Singapore.
1984: Cultural Medallion Award, Government of Singapore.30
1984: Prize Winner, UOB Painting of the Year Competition, Singapore.
1989: Heineken International Art Award, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
1991: SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals Golden Circle Award, United Kingdom.
1995: Pingat APAD, Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya, Singapore.

Other art-related activities
1980–1986:
 Visual Arts Advisory Committee Member, Ministry of Community Development, Singapore.31

1984: Represents Singapore at the ASEAN Art Symposium, Manila, Philippines.
1986–2002: Chairman, Shell Discovery Art Exhibition Advisory Committee, Singapore.
1987: Master Painter, 5th ASEAN Youth Workshop, Singapore.
1991–2003: Art Consultant, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
1992–1994: Arts Advisor, National Arts Council, Singapore.32
1994: Member of Art Acquisition Advisory Committee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore.
1994–1999: President, Modern Art Society, Singapore.
1994–2004: Judge, Singapore ASEAN Art Awards, Philip Morris Group of Companies, Singapore.
2000: Judge, Montblanc Cultural Award, Singapore.
2000–2003: Board Member, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore.
2004: Honorary Member, Indonesia-Singapore Friendship Association, Singapore.



Author

Sian E. Jay



References
1. Susanna Kulatissa, Four Make It to the Ranks of ‘Gifted Few’,” Straits Times, 30 October 1984, 1 (From NewspaperSG); Venka Purushothaman, ed., Narratives: Notes on a Cultural Journey: Cultural Medallion Recipients 1979–2001 (Singapore: National Arts Council, 2002), 200, 201 (Call no. RSING 700.95957 NAR); Thomas Yeo, Thomas Yeo: Moving Colours 1988–1992 (Singapore: Thomas Yeo, 1992), 54. (Call no. RSING 759.95957 YEO)
2. T. K. Sabapathy, Thomas Yeo: A Retrospective (Singapore: Singapore Art Museum, 1997), 10 (Call no. RSING 759.95957 SAB); S. Tsering Bhalla, “Touched By Magic,” Straits Times, 7 March 1993, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
3. Thomas Yeo, Continuation: An Exhibition of Paintings and Collages (Singapore: Thomas Yeo, 1988), 2 (Call no. RSING 759.95957 YEO)
4. Thomas Yeo (Singapore: National Museum Art Gallery, 1985) (Call no. RSING 759.95957 YEO.T); Sabapathy, Retrospective, 36.
5.  Thomas Yeo, Thomas Yeo: Recent Works, 2006–2009: Artfolio Gallery, Singapore, 14 to 24 May 2009 (Singapore: Artfolio Pte Ltd, 2009), 2–3. (Call no. RSING 759.95957 YEO)
6. Yeo, Exhibition of Paintings and Collages, 24.
7. Thomas Yeo, Thomas Yeo: Recapturing (Singapore: The Substation, 2013), 7. (Call no. RSING 759.95957 THO)
8. T. Koh, “Foreword,” in Change: 20 Singapore Artists: A Decade of Their Work (Singapore: P. Mowe, 1991). (Call no. RSING 709.5957 CHA)
9. Sabapathy, Retrospective, 9–41; Thomas Yeo, Thomas Yeo: 4 Years Journey (Singapore: Thomas Yeo, 1996), 51. (Call no. RSING 759.95957 YEO)
10. Yeo, 4 Years Journey, 51.
11. Thomas Yeo, Continuation: An Exhibition of Paintings and Collages ( Singapore: Thomas Yeo, 1988). (Call no. RSING 759.95957 YEO)
12. Yeo, 4 Years Journey, 51.
13.  Yeo, Moving Colours 1988–1992.
14. Yeo, 4 Years Journey.
15. Yeo, Recent Works, 2006–2009, 24.
16. Thomas Yeo, Thomas Yeo: Contrasting Images (Singapore: Thomas Yeo, 2005). (Call no. RSING q759.95957 YEO)
17. Adeline Chia, “A Promise Kept,” Straits Times, 15 March 2007, 58 (From NewspaperSG); Thomas Yeo, Reflections (Singapore: The Substation, 2007). (Call no. RSING 759.95957 YEO-[SST])
18. Yeo, Recent Works, 2006–2009.
19. Huang Lijie, “Channeling Frustration into Funds,” Straits Times, 15 July 2013, 5; Magdalene Lum and Christopher Tan, “Last Call: Thomas Yeo: Recapturing,” Straits Times, 26 July 2013, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
20. Akshita Nanda, “Thomas Yeo Exhibition Shows Paintings from his 58-Year Career,” Straits Times, 1 May 2018. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
21. Yeo, Recent Works, 2006–2009, 24.
22.  “Gathering of Well-Known Abstract Artists,” Business Times, 21 May 2010, 29. (From NewspaperSG)
23. “‘Landscapes of the Mind’,” Straits Times, 9 September 2010, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
24. Deepika Shetty, “Art Collection Tells the Story of S’pore,” Straits Times, 20 October 2015, 5 (From NewspaperSG); “400 Iconic Singapore Artworks to Go On Show at National Gallery Singapore,” Channel News Asia, 19 October 2015. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
25. Mayo Martin, “Cream of the Crop,” Today, 19 December 2015, 22; Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, “Hour at the Museum,” Straits Times, 1 January 2016, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
26. Cheah, Ui-Hoon, “Early Singapore Artworks,” Business Times, 22 April 2016, 31. (From NewspaperSG)
27. Lola Liu, Transcend: 50 Years of Singapore Modern Art (Singapore: Iola Liu, 2017), 9 (Call no. RSING 709.5957074 TRA)
28. Yeo, Contrasting Images, 60.
29. Yeo, Recent Works, 2006–2009, 27.
30. Susanna Kulatissa, “Four Make It to the Ranks of ‘Gifted Few’,” Straits Times, 30 October 1984, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
31. Yeo, Recent Works, 2006–2009, 26.
32. Julia Goh, “16-Artist Panel Formed to Help Arts Council,” Straits Times, 24 July 1992, 3. (From NewspaperSG)



Further resources
Adeline Chia, “Painting for the Present,” Straits Times, 25 May 2009, 40. (From NewspaperSG)

Richard Lim, “Art and the Hard Life,” Straits Times, 28 May 2005, 6. (From NewspaperSG)

Thomas Yeo,” The Esplanade, accessed 5 September 2019.

 

Top Draw: Second Generation Artists,” Straits Times, 17 August 2006, 4. (From NewspaperSG)



The information in this article is valid as at September 2019 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 


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