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Visual Arts

Yeo Hoe Koon

Prominent Singapore Chinese ink artist.

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Published: 12 Oct 2016


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The artist must be on the move, gathering fresh ideas for his paintings all the time. If he does not travel, he will become barren.

The Straits Times, 17 Sep 1970.

Yeo Hoe Koon is a prominent Singapore Chinese ink artist. Trained at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and the at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he returned to Singapore to pursue a career as an arts teacher while practising his art in his free time. Through the decades, he built up a reputation as a Chinese ink artist whose sought-after works have been auctioned by Christie’s.

Born in 1935 in Hainan, China, Yeo Hoe Koon moved to Singapore with his family at a young age. His father painted as a hobby, regularly drawing what he saw around him. Observing his father drawing a man climbing a coconut tree, Yeo discovered a new understanding of art.

But he would not seriously consider pursuing art until he was 18, when he started to take a serious interest in painting. He realised that the memory of his father drawing had left a deep impression on him, and it would help him greatly in his artistic endeavours.

In 1955, a 20-year-old Yeo began his formal art education, enrolling at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. There, he studied under pioneering Singapore artists such as Cheong Soo Pieng, Chen Wen Hsi and Georgette Chen. Graduating in 1957, Yeo found that there were little viable career options for artists in Singapore. Two years later, heeding the Paris-trained Georgette Chen’s advice, Yeo decided to further his art education in Paris.

Yeo attended the prestigious École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1959 to 1961, beginning an artistic education that would inspire him greatly and inform his works. While in France, he also began exhibiting his works in solo and group exhibitions. Yeo returned to Singapore in 1962, but he returned to Europe again in 1965 for an intensive three-year art study tour of the region.

Yeo’s time in Europe was tremendously enriching to him artistically, and it was during the period that Yeo formed his artistic beliefs and philosophies. He would come to hold that art is a beneficial element in everyday living for everyone. After his tour, Yeo returned to Singapore and began a career as an art teacher while he continued with his art practice, continuing to develop his Chinese ink art while expanding his practice to include oil paintings as well.

Through the decades, Yeo painted and exhibited prolifically in Singapore and overseas. He took his work to countries such as USA, the UK, France, Korea and China, building up a reputation as a Chinese ink artist, eventually becoming regarded as one of the top artists in Asia.

Yeo has received honours for his art, receiving a Special Award at the National Day Art Exhibition in Singapore in 1974 and the Pingat Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya from the Association of Artists of Various Resources in 1975.

Timeline

1935

Born in Hainan, China.

1955 to 1957

Attended Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

1959 to 1961

Attended École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France.

1959

Participated in Salon Société des Artistes Français, Paris, France.

1960

Participated in Salon Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France.

Participated in Salon d'Automne, Paris, France.

Participated in Salon Société des Artistes Français, Paris, France.

1961

Solo exhibition, Galerie Horizon, Paris, France.

Solo exhibition, Malaya Hall, London, UK.

Participated in Salon Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France.

1962

Solo exhibition, Penang Art Society, Penang, Malaysia.

Participated in Malaysian Art Exhibition, Singapore.

1964

Solo exhibition, National Library, Singapore.

1965 to 1968

Art study tour, Europe.

1966

Participated in Malaysian Art, touring Australia and New Zealand.

1967

Participated in Malaysian Art, touring USA and Europe.

1969

Solo exhibition, Galeri 11, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Solo exhibition, National Library, Singapore.

Participated in Our Time in Pulau Pinang, Lincoln Centre, Penang, Malaysia.

Participated in Artists Trio, Penang Museum, Penang, Malaysia.

1970

Solo exhibition, National Library, Singapore.

Participated in Contemporary Six, Tang Chou Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in Singapore Exhibition, Jetro Office, Tokyo, Japan.

Participated in Expo ’70, Osaka, Japan.

1971

Solo exhibition, Prasaiminth Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand.

Participated in Welcome Home Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Participated in Three Contemporaries, Galaxy Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Participated in International ISPAA Exhibition, Seah Gallery, Singapore.

1972

Solo exhibition, Mandarin Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in Ten Top Contemporary Artists, Mandarin Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in International ISPAA Exhibition, touring Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan.

1973

Solo exhibition, National Library, Singapore.

Participated in Elemental Abstration, Three Artists, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in Alpha Invitational, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.

1974

Received Special Award, National Day Art Exhibition, Singapore.

Solo exhibition, Samat Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Participated in Alpha Group Show ’74, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.

1975

Received Pingat Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya, Association of Artists of Various Resources, Singapore.

Solo exhibition, National Library, Singapore.

Solo exhibition, Dewan Seri, Penang, Malaysia.

Participated in Five Contemporary Singapore Artists, Alliance Francais, Singapore.

Participated in Paintings, Four Artists, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.

1976

Participated in inaugural exhibition of the National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in COLOUR, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

1977

Participated in Large Paintings, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in Two Man Exhibition, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in London Preliminary Exhibition, London, UK.

Participated in Art ’77, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in Landscapes, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in Selection, Paintings and Sculptures, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.

1978

Participated in Art ’78, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in Contemporary Art, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in Ten Contemporaries, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in Alpha Group ’78, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.

1979

Solo exhibition, Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Singapore.

Participated in EXPO 3 – Alliance Française, Singapore.

Participated in International Arts Festival, United World College, Singapore.

1980

Participated in Hong Kong Arts Festival.

Participated in 3 Artists Art Exhibition, Raya Gallery, Australia.

Participated in Singapore Festival of Arts 1980.

Participated in Exhibition of Contemporary Art, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

1981

Participated in ASEAN Exhibition – Painting, Graphic Arts and Photography 1981, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

1982

Solo exhibition, Alpha Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in New Format, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

1983

Solo exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

Solo exhibition, Penang Museum, Penang, Malaysia.

1984

Participated in Perak Sundry Association, Perak, Malaysia.

1986

Participated in Salon des Artistes Français, Paris, France.

1987

Solo exhibition, Australia High Commission, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Participated in Salon des Artistes Français, Paris, France.

Participated in New Direction, Modern Art Society, Singapore.

Participated in National Museum Centenary Art Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

1988

Solo exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in The Second Decade, Singapore Festival of Arts 1988, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in Singapore Contemporary Artists, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong.

Participated in Wuhan International Chinese Ink Exhibition, China.

Participated in Exhibition of Arts in Chinese Chess, Singapore.

1989

Solo exhibition, Balai Seni Menara Maybank, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

1990

Solo exhibition, Stafford Gallery, Perth, Australia.

1990 to 1993

Committee Member, Board of Consultants, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

1991

Solo exhibition, The Art Gallery, Penang, Malaysia.

Solo exhibiton, Ink and Colour Works by Yeo Hoe Koon, The Substation, Singapore.

Solo exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

Solo exhibition, Balai Seni Menara Maybank, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Participated in Malaysian Watercolours 1991, Malaysia.

Participated in Une Touche of Francais Art Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

1992

Participated in ’92 Seoul, Korea.

1993

Solo exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

Participated in Art in Asia, Singapore Art Fair.

1994

Participated in Pont des Arts Nanyang Artists in Paris, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.

Guest Curator, Pont des Arts, Nanyang Artists in Paris, Singapore Art Museum.

1995

Member, Judging Committee, The Singapore Society of Chinese Artists Member Award.

1997

Participated in Pont des Arts, Galeri Petronas, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Participated in Pekan Seni Ipoh II, Perak, Malaysia.

1999

Participated in Aku: 99 Potret Diri Exhibition, Galeri Petronas, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

2000

Participated in Art Power, Ministry of Information and the Arts, Singapore.

2002

Solo exhibition, The Penang Museum Art Gallery, Penang, Malaysia.

Participated in Evolution – Ink and Colour, The Substation, Singapore.

2005

Participated in Seventies, Art-2, Singapore.

Participated in Singapore Art Show, Singapore.

2006

Participated in Important Second-Generation Artists Series, DLR Gallery, Singapore.

Guest speaker, Fine Art Academy of Hunan Normal University and Hunan International Economics University (Arts Department), Hunan, China.

2008

Solo exhibition, Long March since 1955 – Paintings by Yeo Hoe Koon, Echo Art Galerie, Singapore.

2010

Participated in Salon Pont des Arts, Echo Art Gallery, Singapore.

2011

Solo exhibition, Illumination – An Exhibition of Large Paintings in Oils and Chinese ink by Yeo Hoe Koon, DLR Gallery, Singapore.


TributeSG

TributeSG celebrates the arts community’s most senior members, and those who have made a lifetime of contribution to the arts. These artists, administrators, educators, patrons, and champions include many Singapore arts pioneers who laid the foundations of the vibrant arts and cultural scene we enjoy today. The many profiles in TributeSG let us into the minds and worlds of these pioneers, and help us understand our shared arts heritage. When we revisit their works and rediscover their journeys, we learn where we came from and how we came to be. Collectively, their stories tell the tale of the making of a nation’s artistic identity.

In putting together this collection, the TributeSG team consulted an external advisory panel, consisting of Arun Mahiznan, Choo Thiam Siew, J. P. Nathan, K. K. Seet, Kwok Kian Chow, and Iskandar Ismail. Those selected to be profiled in TributeSG met one of the following criteria: they were at least 60 years of age as of 12 Oct 2016, or deceased, or had received national recognition in the form of the Cultural Medallion. This journey of arts archival officially came to a close on 12 Oct 2016, after four years of extensive research, interviews and collation of information graciously provided by the TributeSG pioneers, their families and peers. TributeSG also benefited from enthusiastic help from like-minded friends and organisations who supported Esplanade’s cause—to remember, honour and celebrate Singapore’s arts pioneers.

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