A lifetime in paint

01 May 2018
The Straits Times Life!, Page D1&D2

Cultural Medallion recipient and NAFA alumnus Thomas Yeo, who has been an artist for almost 60 years, still manages to find excitement in his work

At 82, artist Thomas Yeo still spends most of the week in his Telok Kurau studio, alternating between rice-paper landscapes on a tabletop easel and large abstract canvases on the floor. Working on different paintings at the same time keeps the Cultural Medallion recipient from getting bored. "I'm schizophrenic," jokes Yeo at the opening of his solo exhibition at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts' The Ngee Ann Kongsi Galleries. The artist, an alumnus of the academy, has 56 works on display. The showcase, titled Now & Then, includes new work painted last year alongside older paintings from the start of his 58-year career. Winter Landscape, the view from a window in London painted in curvaceous abstract shapes in 1965 and 1966, hangs alongside Yangshuo Revisited, a bird's-eye view of mountains in China repurposed into angular geometric forms.

Yeo often segues from realistic watercolours to abstract acrylic reimaginings of the same landscape. "I get excited when I travel," says the artist, who heads to China and Thailand every year. "I come back with all these images haunting me. Sometimes, I want to go back to the area to see if it's really what I wanted to put down." Yeo's solo at NAFA is his second at the academy, after a 2005 showcase. "It is probably my last major exhibition," says the artist, who was diagnosed last month with glaucoma, an eye disease known to lead to irreversible loss of vision.

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Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.