Time Out Singapore: Thomas Yeo

Thomas Yeo, one of Singapore’s most renowned second-generation artists and Cultural Medallion winners, holds a fundraiser for The Substation and talks to Gwen Pew about his new series, the idea of change and how to approach abstract art.

'Ocean World 1' by Thomas Yeo.

‘Ocean World 1’ by Thomas Yeo.

30 Jun 2013: ‘There are two new series in this show: Ocean and Construction.

‘The Ocean series was inspired by National Geographic programmes, as well as from my past experience in scuba diving, so I decided to do a series on fish spawning – but not in a realistic way.

‘The Construction series began after I was confronted with construction work wherever I went in Singapore. In fact, one can hardly escape it if you happen to live in town. As my surroundings were dusty and noisy, I went to my studio in Telok Kurau, hoping to have some peace. Unfortunately, the workers in Telok Kurau started to excavate the drain and the work went on for weeks!

‘Change can bring life into a city, but quite often, destruction and creation go hand in hand. If we have to destroy our history in order to have a new city, then we have to tread carefully. The speed at which change takes place can create confusion for the older generation. However, change is inevitable. No place can stand still.

‘Both series are very different from anything I have done in the past. I am hoping to create awareness through my works, but there is no short cut or quick fix to understanding abstract art. It requires plenty of time and effort. Go to the library and read up on it and, best of all, visit as many art exhibitions as you can. Nothing like confronting the art work head on! As time goes on, you will begin to enjoy the new language of art.’

Time Out Singapore: Joo Choon Lin’s ‘Resolution of Reality’ Review


Joo Choon Lin's 'Resolution of Reality' in situ. Photo courtesy of Singapore Tyler Print Intstitute (STPI).

Joo Choon Lin’s ‘Resolution of Reality’ in situ. Photo courtesy of Singapore Tyler Print Intstitute (STPI).

29 Nov 2012: The latest exhibition at Hermès’ third floor exhibition space is another site-specific installation – this time by young local artist Joo Choon Lin, who specialises in stop-motion animations with various media (such as her video segments in ‘Too Big in the Tank’, which was featured at the Esplanade Tunnel as part of the 2011 Singapore Arts Festival).

Resolution of Reality features several new animations in the form of a series of videos entitled ‘Vaporised by Sunrise’, in which she uses acetone to corrode various hand-made Styrofoam models of old-school electronic devices. She depicts the objects in various stages as they melt away into shapeless puddles – quite entertaining to watch.

The exhibition’s title piece features three screens depicting a laser printer printing out sheets of reflective paper in three different locations – a park (with the video subtitled ‘life’), a cemetery (‘death’) and by a pond (‘spirituality’). Along a similar vein is the exhibition’s centrepiece, ‘Multi-Tiered Falls’, which consists of a dot matrix printer suspended from the ceiling and printing a series of 14 images of the ocean onto a roll of continuous paper, which cascades down to the floor. It’s perhaps the most intriguing piece on display just for its simplicity; it’s meant to mimic the process of watching a film – in this case, a very, very slow film. Where regular videos show approximately 30 frames per second, Joo’s installation produces one frame every 15 minutes.

It’s hard to pin down exactly what the purpose is of all these somewhat quirky creations and videos – certainly, there’s a fixation on various technologies old and new as well as nature (as evidenced by the natural settings in ‘Resolution’ and the ocean frames in ‘Multi-Tiered Falls’). Beyond that, explaining any sort of connecting theme or deeper meaning gets a bit obtuse. Still, they’re fun experiments – we particularly like the cute Styrofoam replicas shown in ‘Vaporised’; the sad remains of which are hung up behind the exhibition space.

Time Out Singapore: Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Love Forever’ Review

Love Forever [Taow] by Yayoi Kusama (detail only). Photo courtesy of Ota Fine Arts.

‘Love Forever [Taow]’ by Yayoi Kusama (detail only). Photo courtesy of Ota Fine Arts.

29 Nov 2012: Is there anywhere Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama isn’t at these days? The polka-dot obsessed, famously eccentric 83-year-old’s work seems to be everywhere, globally – from a massive Tate retrospective earlier this year to the window displays of Louis Vuitton stores worldwide (including Singapore) – and locally – from the rooftop garden at Orchard Central to the Affordable Art Fair. For the grand opening of Gillman Barracks in September, Ota Fine Arts – who represents the artist at their flagship gallery in Japan – featured a series of new Kusama works; the second and current show is yet another solo Kusama exhibition, this one taking us back a few years.

Love Forever features 25 large-scale black-and-white works, all done between 2004 and 2007 with a simple black felt marker. It’s a distinct contrast from her typical, more colourful works (as shown in Metallic, Ota’s first show), but the works still nevertheless showcase the repetitive techniques and patterns of dots and lines the artist is known for, the result of the hallucinations the artist famously suffers from (one of the reasons why she chose to stay in a mental hospital).

As with most shows at the big-branded galleries of Gillman Barracks, it’s a high quality exhibition, with the pieces neatly lined up side-by-side in two rows, filling practically all the available wall space at Ota’s bright, airy gallery. The effect is somewhat overwhelming, with viewers completely surrounded and immersed in Kusama’s work. With this exhibition, Ota succeeds in giving us an idea of what it’s like to live in the surreal world that the artist’s mind inhabits.