Yeo Shih Yun’s tells us about her Conversations with Trees

7adam recently hosted a tea session where attendees got to pick the brains of local abstract artist Yeo Shih Yun who has held numerous exhibitions both locally and internationally. She is highly acclaimed with numerous awards under her belt such as the Sovereign Asian Art Prize People’s Choice Award 2012, 26th UOB Painting of the Year Competition Singapore 2007, Certificate of Distinction and Highly Commended Entry (Abstract category).

Housed in a colonial style building, 7adam was the perfect venue to host this talk as the tranquil surroundings made it feel as though you had walked into someone’s private mansion and were treated to a whole display of fine art and sculpture. Not only was it a feast for the senses, your appetite will be whet to as the food served at 7adam is delightful. We were here previously for Restaurant Week 2013 and were impressed by the thoughtfulness of the service staff, who replaced my friend’s soup when she mentioned a certain vegetable was not to her liking.

The artist talk begun with a photo journey through Yeo’s past to present works, periodically peppered with the artist’s thoughts and inspirations of her numerous projects. It is undeniable that Yeo’s influences stem from the abstract expressionism era. She particularly believes in mixing elements of chance with a certain amount of certainty. For example, rolling dice to come up with a configuration of how paint should be applied and things along those lines.

In her work above, Yeo makes use of toy cars and dips their wheels in paint. She then lets the cars zoom across paper which results in forceful, energetic lines in her painting. When asked how she knows how her work is finally complete, she says that there is no telling when an artwork really ends, and it is through years of experience coupled with her background in design that she can step back at the final stages of the painting and assess its completeness.

ConversationsWithTrees2 tree19small_webimage

Her obsession with Chinese calligraphic ink first begun under her tutelage of the late Chua Ek Kay, who is famed for his blend of Chinese ink with Western elements. Even though she has been painting for 10 years, it does not appear that her interest in Chinese ink is waning, as she constantly explores different ways to utilize the paint. Even though it is seemingly limiting to just rely on one medium, if viewed from another angle, the possibilities are in fact infinite as the tone, the paper, the execution can be varied in over a million ways.

In “Conversations with Trees”, Yeo attaches a calligraphic brush to the ends of the branches of trees and lets the wind guide its motion. She was keen on exploring the ‘release drawing from its enslavement to the artist’s hand’. After the marks are made, she takes the work back to put her last expert touches, and voilà the work is done.

“Zerorize” : AJ201103-NO12
“Zerorize” : AJ201103-NO12

I am particularly impressed by Yeo’s collaborative project, “Zerorize”, where two artists separated by distance and cultural differences eventually met in a residency in Lendava and conceived a collaboration. “Zerorize” saw the artists distilling essential forms of the language, where it was just a mix of signs and symbols. Merging their styles during the process of creation was a beautiful accident as there exists a kind of psychic, telepathic messages that flowed from one artist to the other as they took turns to make marks on the canvas. Every mark, every inscription is irreversible and perfectly encapsulates the moment within that particular time and space.

Thank you 7Adam for the invitation:

Yeo Shih Yun’s works can be viewed at her personal website:
For more information about her gallery space and artist residency programs, check out:


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