REFLECTIONS: Paintings by THOMAS YEO

Reflections on collograph, palette knives and fund raising

A prolific painter, juror to countless art competitions, Thomas Yeo is stranger to none in the local art scene. This exhibition follows the large solo show of 2005 at NAFA art galleries, to raise funds for the substation so that it may continue to do what it does best, nurture avant-garde (read innovative) practices and audience development/art viewership. To summarize, without vulgarising these works as I’m sheepishly shy to reproduce the images here, they are interesting in 3 aspects: Firstly, the use of collograph, sticking delicate rice papers, photocopies of images gathered from maps, in the synthetic cubist fashion, and painting landscapes that defy Western one-point perspective. These are protected behind glass, which is debatable, adds to the aesthetics of reflections and concept of dual realms. The concept of mechanical reproduction is perhaps criticised here, especially when the artist once mentioned that there are more than one ‘red symphonies’, and when one abstract painting looks suspiciously like the next, not unlike the Chinese scroll paintings that flock the racks of painting framers. can aesthetics be mechanically reproduced, devoid of individual genius?

Secondly, the move from primeval colour range and palette-knifed landscapes to ‘mindscapes’ abstracted images of the head/portrait. I always thought that Thomas Yeo’s paintings look stunning the bigger they are, hopefully one day to rival Julian Schnabel. There is a certain rawness in the manner Thomas uses his colours, a total aversion to any realistic tonal rendition. They are instead, lead by colour in a symphony of euphoria, expressive ‘master strokes’, making me wonder if music is played during the production of these works, a tune hummed incessantly, untroubled by contemporary art’s social and political concerns.

Thirdly, the giving spirit of a master 2nd generation artist for the next generation, with an exhibition titled ‘reflections’. Thomas Yeo is regarded as a 2nd generation artist by our local art historian, TK Sabapathy. A fellow artist, Guo Liang remarked that these 2nd generation artist, have a certain sense of integrity different the ‘pioneer’ Singaporean artists, and artists that followed the foot steps to seek ‘Western Art’ from abroad. Guo Liang argued that the pioneer artists would call themselves as ‘overseas Chinese’, more than Singaporean. Their style, arguably was mooted as the Nanyang Style, a fusion of east and West techniques and superfluous appearances. The 2nd generation artists, saw what they liked abroad, and jumped straight into the craft, without guilt, creating their own modernism, albeit 10 years later than New York or Europe. The artists today, are fickle minded, craving after concept and little craft.

Artists today have a lot to look up to, to study the biographies of these 2nd generation artists who have much to share: perseverance, determination and sheer love of craft. Isn’t it time to do some self-reflection?

6 of 10 stars

till Mar 18, 2007

The Substation Gallery

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