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Shih Yun Yeo

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Shih Yun Yeo
🏳️ NationalitySingaporean
🏫 EducationNational University of Singapore
LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts
San Francisco Art Institute
💼 Occupation
StyleAbstract Expressionism
🌐 Websitehttps://www.shihyunyeo.com

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Shih Yun Yeo (born 1976) is a contemporary Singaporean artist and art gallery director. She specialises in abstract painting, with Chinese ink being her preferred medium.[1]

Born and raised in Singapore, Yeo graduated from National University of Singapore with a Bachelor in Business Administration in 1998, from Lasalle College of the Arts with a Diploma in Communications Design in 2001, and from San Francisco Art Institute with a Post-Baccalaureate in Painting in 2002.[1] A recipient of multiple national art awards in Singapore, she now works as a full-time artist and as a founding manager of INSTINC, an independent, self-funded, artist-for-artist[2] creative working space in Singapore.

Shih Yun Yeo
Traditional Chinese姚詩韻
Simplified Chinese姚诗韵


Shih Yun Yeo was born in 1976 in Singapore. Having obtained her degree in Business and Marketing at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 1998, she enrolled in LASALLE College of the Arts, majoring in Graphic Design. During that time, under her professor's advice, Yeo participated in the UOB Painting of the Year Competition and brought home the "Highly Commended" award, resulting in her first sale and exhibition in 1999. After her graduation from LASALLE in 2001, she moved to San Francisco to pursue a Post-Baccalaureate Degree in Painting at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). There she was exposed to the works of Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Yves Klein, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, and many more, all of whom greatly influenced her decision to pursue Abstract Expressionism as an artistic specialty.[3] Aside from her Western inspirations, she also looked up to Chua Ek Kay, her former mentor at LASALLE,[4] as well as Zai Wou-ki, Cai Guo-Qiang, Toko Shinoda, and more.[5]

In 2004, Yeo founded INSTINC Art Gallery.[6]


A self-proclaimed Abstract Expressionist,[7] Yeo committed to Chinese ink as her primary medium, but often in juxtaposition with silkscreen printing techniques or with digitisation, to fortify the spontaneity in her mark-making. Describing Yeo's works, Kay Liu, a Taiwanese art critic, discusses a calm harmony between contrasts and conflicts, brought about by incidental chance.[8] In Yeo's own words, she claims that her fascination with asymmetrical balance, contrast, movement, and rhythm pushes her to produce all of her abstract works.[9]

Early work[edit]

Yeo employed orthodox techniques and medium to produce her first paintings. The majority of her creations during this period of time were Chinese ink on sumi paper and watercolour paper, as reflected in her first series of works, Instinct, in 2001. The loose mark-making as well as the unpremeditated dynamics of the brush strokes emerged as prominent characteristics of the artist's approach to art.

File:Three Rooms (triptych).jpg
Three Rooms (triptych), 50 x 150 cm, Chinese ink and acrylic on canvas, 2003 (as part of Yeo's Urbanisers series)

As time progressed, she became more experimental. Her solo exhibition in 2003, log:one03, featured five wall panels with Yeo's signature drips, marks, and splatters in Chinese ink. Within the same year, another solo exhibition of hers, Urban Series, marks her parallel employment of acrylic paint, a relatively modern medium, and Chinese ink, a more traditional element on boards and canvases.[10]

Aside from media, Yeo also began to diversify her techniques and materials, introducing silkscreen techniques into her process and allowing for more incidental mark-making to take place.

In the Raw (2007)[edit]

Yeo's solo exhibition in 2007 showcases her expansion of material choices into the realms of wood, unprimed canvases, and linen to add tonal qualities to the monotonous appearances of ink.[11] To enhance the works' dimensionality, Yeo also utilised acrylic paint, charcoal, silkscreening, and sewing threads in her process. Her radical approach results in multiple large-scale, explosive, and highly-textural pieces.The collection was exhibited in the Knoll Gallery, Singapore, in 2007.[12]

Paintings from 2007 - 2009[edit]

During this period, Yeo began to participate in regional competitions with some degree of success. Two of her works won awards at the 26th UOB Singapore Painting of the Year Competition. Twist (2007) secured a Certificate of Distinction, whilst Impossibility of Repetition (2007) was named one of the Highly Commended Entries, both in the Abstract category.[13]

Bergen, Norway (2009)[edit]

Her time in Norway exposed her to a new material choices and inspirations. From April 4 to 15, she applied Chinese ink on a corner of a 16mm film each day and dated her creation with rubber stamp. The projection of these films displays a mix sharp contours and hazy silhouettes of ink splatters, resulting in a collectively mediated effect.[14]

There, she also took inspiration from the fjord scenery a series of works with ink and pigment on paper, using twigs instead of brushes as her instruments, highlighting her on-going ambition to be original in her approach.

Conversations with the Trees (2009 - 2012)[edit]

For this exhibition, Yeo explored the different ways in which natural, non-human forces could contribute to the creation of artworks. Hence, she set up stations in Labrador Park, Singapore by first loading paintbrushes with Chinese ink, then attaching them to tree branches and letting the swaying of the wind dictate the production of expressive mark-making. The selected 'tree drawings' were thence transferred onto silkscreens, which were then used to reproduce the breeze-made patterns onto sheets of linen.[15] The final products further emphasise Yeo's adventurous experiments with materials, as they feature works on Fabriano paper, fabric, transparent film, as well as glass.

The success of this project garnered Yeo some national recognition. Her piece, Teeming (2011), won the People's Choice Award at the Sovereign Asian Art Prize.[16]

Yeo's Tree Series was exhibited at the Esplanade's Jendela Visual Arts Space in Singapore in February 2011. In 2012, Singapore Art Museum commissioned an individual painting in the motif of the series to be shown in a parallel exhibition with Jeremy Sharma called Lyrical Abstraction.[17] Later that year, the same work travelled to Lesley Heller Gallery in New York City to join René Pierre Allain, Paul Campbell, Margaret Evangeline, Gerald Ferguson, and Micah Ganske in Semi Automatic, an exhibition that celebrates unconventional means of art-making.[18] In 2017, she revamped one of the works in the series by integrating Piet Mondrian artistic elements into her existing piece. She then renamed it Conversation with Mondrian & the Trees. Yeo's fresh take on her own painting was on display in the Esplanade Tunnel in Singapore.[19]

Robots and Paintings (2010-)[edit]

During her residency in Studio Kura, Itoshima, Yeo diverged from her past reliance on metaphysical energies to create unconstrained marks and turned to mechanical exertions to generate more unique gestural shapes and lines in her paintings. As a result, she attached paintbrushes to robots and remote-controlled toy cars and let their battery-driven motors run across the surface of the paper.[20]

Her 2011 solo exhibition in Munich called 43200 Minutes demonstrates the ever-transforming characteristics of her mark-making process. Instead of leaving it completely up to chance, she invented an arbitrary set of rule. Using dice to determine which step to take, Yeo played with the line between planned and unplanned.

In 2014, Yeo collaborated with her former peer from her alma mater in erecting a trans-national exhibition named Project 6581. Kunihiro Masuko is a printmaker from Tokyo, Japan, who graduated with a degree in graphic design from LASALLE College of the Arts, where he met Yeo. The two artists, along with Yoshimi Yomogida, Masuko's technician, assembled the wall installation using a mixture of media and techniques, ranging from Yeo's employment of robots to Masuko's unconventional usage of ink and rolls in the printshop, to digital manipulation post-production.[21] The resulting 40 prints exude dynamics and vibrancy.

In the same year, another one of her robotic series acquired Yeo her own exhibition, Choreographed Collisions, at Galerie Steph, Singapore.[22]

Waterfall (2012)[edit]

In 2012, Yeo broke out of her usual two-dimensional approach and engaged in the production of three-dimensional pieces. By dipping multiple scrolls of rice paper into various shades of Chinese ink and assembling them together, she imitated the cascading of waterfalls whilst maintaining her signature employment of the traditional medium.[23]

Within the same year, her installation joined the works of Tay Bak Chiang, Oh Chai Ho, and Quek Kiat Sing in making the exhibition, 墨 (Ink), at the Jendela Visual Arts Space, Esplanade, Singapore.

Musical Collaborations (2015)[edit]

In 2015, inspired by Singapore's 50th anniversary, Yeo put on at a loud volume 'We are Singapore,' a nationally popular song, and placed graphite powder and water onto the speakers' membranes. The vibrating surfaces bounced off some of the materials in unpredictable patterns, which Yeo recorded by catching the rhythmic fallouts with paper. From thence, she scanned musically-produced marks and re-arranged their compositions onto circular plexiglass panels, alluding to the speakers in the initial steps.[24]

In the same year, Yeo's series We are Singapore became part of a joint exhibition curated by Daniela Beltrani and shown at Artspace222, Singapore. Bringing together the works of 7 different artists, aSita revolves around the theme of monotony in abstract art.


In 2004, Yeo founded INSTINC Art Gallery as a response to the lack of affordable art exhibition spaces in Singapore. In 2009, inspired by her residency in Bergen, Norway,[9] she introduced the residency programme, offering national as well as international artists to come and use the creative space for art-making purposes. Until this day, the gallery has hosted 65 artists from 20 different countries.[25]

In 2010, Yeo was an Adjunct Instructor of Art at Miyazaki Art Centre in Japan.[26] Similarly, from 2009-2010, she was an Adjunct Lecturer at LASALLE College of the Arts, in the Masters in Arts Management programme.[27]

In 2017, with the assistance of her friend, Kelley Cheng, a publisher, she launched a book. INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun documents her 18 years as an artist and features the voices of many professionals in the industry, such as Marjorie Chu, Kay Liu, and Iola Lenzi.[9]


  • People's Choice Award, Sovereign Asian Art Prize, 2012[28]
  • Top 20 Finalists, Sovereign Asian Art Prize, 2011
  • Highly Commended Entry (Abstract Category), 26th UOB Singapore Painting of the Year Competition, 2007
  • Certificate of Distinction (Abstract Category), 26th UOB Singapore Painting of the Year Competition, 2007
  • Highly Commended Entry (Abstract Category), 18th UOB Singapore Painting of the Year Competition, 1999

Solo Exhibition[edit]

  • Choreographed Collisions, Galerie Steph, Singapore, 2014s[27]
  • Learning from Trees, Art Forum, Singapore, 2013
  • Traces of Nature, Community Wall, Esplanade, Singapore, 2011
  • 43200 Minutes in Munich, LW44, Munich, Germany, 2011
  • 408 Hours in Itoshima, Studio Kua Gallery, Fukuoka, Japan, 2010
  • In the Raw, Knoll Gallery, Singapore, 2007
  • Black Rain, INSTINC, Singapore, 2006
  • Mini Me, INSTINC, Singapore, 2005
  • Urbanseries, Anthropology Gallery, Singapore, 2004
  • log:one03, Block 43 Studio Gallery, Singapore, 2003
  • New Finds, Art Forum, Singapore, 2003
  • Moment, Intermezzo, Singapore, 2002.

Selected Group Exhibitions[edit]

  • Esplanade 15th Anniversary Exhibition - 80by80, Esplanade Tunnel, Singapore, 2017[29]
  • Remembering LKY, INSTINC and One Raffles Place Atrium, Singapore, 2015[30]
  • aSita, Artspace222, Singapore, 2015[24]
  • Scholars and Ink, NUS Museum, Singapore, 2015[31]
  • Project 6581, Japan Creative Center, Singapore, 2014[32]
  • (Ink), Jendela Visual Arts Space, Esplanade, Singapore, 2012[23]
  • Semi Automatic, Lesley Heller Workspace, New York, USA, 2012[18]
  • Lyrical Abstraction: Works by Jeremy Sharma and Shih Yun Yeo, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, 2012.[17]

Selected Bibliography[edit]

  • Kelley Cheng (ed.), INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun, INSTINC, Singapore, 2017, IBSN 978-981-11-3202-6


  1. 1.0 1.1 Yeo, Shihyun. "Yeo Shih Yun | Biography". Contemporary Art of Yeo Shih Yun. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  2. Lijie, Huang (2014-12-16). "Singapore-made art soars internationally". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  3. Yeo (2017-07-04), INKPULSE STUDIO AND ART, retrieved 2018-06-13
  4. "Yeo Shih Yun - Sprmrkt". sprmrkt.com.sg. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  5. Cheng, Kelley (2017). INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun. Singapore: INSTINC. pp. 26–27. ISBN 978-981-11-3205-6. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  6. "KINETICA-MUSEUM Shih Yun Yeo". www.kinetica-museum.org. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  7. Cheng, Kelley (2017). INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun. Singapore: INSTINC. p. 27. ISBN 9789811132056. OCLC 1004892737. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  8. Cheng, Kelley (2017). INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun. Singapore: INSTINC. p. 50. ISBN 978-981-11-3205-6. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 STAR, MOE (2018-03-05), CAPS!2017 Artist Talk_Yeo Shih Yun, retrieved 2018-06-13
  10. Cheng, Kelley (2017). INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun. Singapore: INSTINC. pp. 44–89. ISBN 9789811132056. OCLC 1004892737. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  11. Cheng, Kelley (2017). INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun. Singapore: INSTINC. pp. 102–107. ISBN 978-981-11-3205-6. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  12. "Shih Yun Yeo". www.studiokura.info. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  13. Cheng, Kelley (2017). INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun. Singapore: INSTINC. pp. 110–117. ISBN 978-981-11-3205-6. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  14. Cheng, Kelley (2017). INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun. Singapore: INSTINC. pp. 120–134. ISBN 978-981-11-3205-6. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  15. "Yeo Shih Yun's tells us about her Conversations with Trees - Popspoken". Popspoken. 2013-04-13. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  16. Cheng, Kelley (2017). INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun. Singapore: INSTINC. pp. 156–191. ISBN 978-981-11-3205-6. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Jia Aili, Jeremy Sharma, and Yeo Shih Yun - Announcements - e-flux". www.e-flux.com. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  18. 18.0 18.1 ""Semi Automatic"". www.lesleyheller.com. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  19. "38 Artists Contribute New Work to Esplanade's 80by80 Exhibition". Bakchormeeboy. 2017-10-20. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  20. "Robots and Paintings - Contemporary Art of Yeo Shih Yun". Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  21. Cheng, Kelley (2017). INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun. Singapore: INSTINC. pp. 270–279. ISBN 978-981-11-3205-6. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  22. "AGAS | Art Galleries Association Singapore". www.agas.org.sg. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  23. 23.0 23.1 "墨 Jendala Art Space Esplanade". www.instinc.com. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Southeast Asia Art Guide". arthop.co. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  25. Cheng, Kelley (2017). INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun. Singapore: INSTINC. p. 14. ISBN 978-981-11-3205-6. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  26. Yeo (2010-10-14), Miyazaki Art Centre, art workshop by artist Shih Yun Yeo.(, retrieved 2018-06-13
  27. 27.0 27.1 Cheng, Kelley (2017). INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun. Singapore: INSTINC. p. 320. ISBN 978-981-11-3205-6. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  28. Cheng, Kelley (2017). INKPULSE: The Art of Yeo Shih Yun. Singapore: INSTINC. p. 322. ISBN 978-981-11-3205-6. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  29. "Esplanade Singapore: 80by80". www.esplanade.com. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  30. "RememberingLKY: A Tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew". Singapore Art & Gallery Guide | Art Events & Exhibitions in Singapore. 2015-07-07. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  31. "Southeast Asia Art Guide". arthop.co. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  32. "Project 6581 - Parallel Perception And Counter Connection". www.sg.emb-japan.go.jp. Retrieved 2018-06-13.

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