Muralist Yip Yew Chong takes street art indoors
Singapore artist Yip Yew Chong is well-known for his life-sized murals which depict nostalgic scenes of everyday life in Singapore. In five years, the former financial director and self-taught artist has painted more than 70 murals all over Singapore, from Chinatown to Tiong Bahru and Kampong Glam.
Last year’s Circuit Breaker period, however, kept him from working outdoors. With plenty of time on his hands, the 52-year-old moved from painting on walls to canvases instead. Little did he expect that the experiment would prove to be a turning point in his practice.
He painted favourite local dishes, as well as traditional pastries, and experimented on old school bamboo blinds, enamel plates, pans, tabletops, chairs, stools, washing boards and chopping boards over a period of three months as he wanted to create variety in the exhibition. Eventually, he realised he had enough works for a gallery exhibition.
While he enjoys painting on both canvases and murals, he found the process of moving from murals to canvases challenging. Although canvases may seem easier to work on since they are smaller in size and can be painted indoors, he says: “It is more challenging because it requires you to paint in finer details.”
His first solo show, Something, Somewhere, Somewhen, is on until 14 Mar at Art Porters Gallery in Spottiswoode Park Road. The exhibition features nine triptychs and 15 sets of painted objects, including Reunion Dinner, a painting of home-cooked food on a laminated tabletop, and a realistic painting of Roti Prata on an enamel plate.
The works, which are for sale from under $1,000, has sold well. He says: “I was confident that the paintings would sell, but I was surprised they were sold that quickly. I am very grateful for the collectors’ overwhelming support.” He adds that many visitors found the paintings on objects refreshing, and that in turn motivates him to create better works in the future.
He is equally heartened by members of the public who have shared stories about how his paintings have moved them. One example is a speech therapist who wrote to him about his Deepavali-themed painting that she found on Facebook. The painting had allowed her to connect with an Indian patient who was previously withdrawn and to get the patient to speak. He says: “The painting made the patient cry, and her story made me cry too.”
Encouraged by the response to his artistic experiments, Yip plans to explore new forms of art, including digital art, filming, installation art and calligraphy.
He says: “Experimenting with new mediums, formats and themes has widened my horizon as an artist, but I want to continue practising my craft and developing what has brought me to where I am today, which is painting murals that connects to people.”
Learn more about Something, Somewhere, Somewhen here.