Born 1936 in Singapore. Thomas attended the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts between 1958 and 1960. He continued to study art in London at the Chelsea School of Art and the Hammersmith College of Art & Architecture. He had exhibited over 100 shows in Singapore and aboard including Australia, Austria, Cambodia, China, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam. Thomas won many awards including the First Prize in SIA Mural Competition, Singapore (1971), Cultural Medallion Award winner in 19 84 (presented by the Government of Singapore), UOB Painting of the Year Competition (1983/84), Heineken International Art Award, Amsterdam (1991) and Pingat APAD (Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya) for his dedication and creative contribution to the development of visual art in Singapore (1995). His works are among the collections of local / overseas institutions and private corporations.

Source: MASS 2005


Ocean Blue
Acrylic on Canvas
152 x 107 cm


Thomas Yeo 姚照宏 Born in Singapore in 1936, Thomas graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1960. He furthered his artistic pursuits at Chelsea School of Art and Hammersmith College of Art & Architecture, London.

Today, after four decades as a professional artist, Thomas has established himself as one of the well-known artists in Asia. He has held 39 one-man shows in Singapore and abroad, in Australia, Austria, Germany, Denmark and London, UK, and he has participated in more than 100 regional and international group shows. In 1997, the Singapore Art Museum held a large retrospective of his work, and in 2000, Thomas was invited by the Macau government to hold a solo show at the prestigious Leal Senado.

Thomas has served on numerous committees and juries over the years, including Chairman of Shell Discovery Art from 1986-2002, President of Modern Art Society (1994-99), advisor and judge for the ASEAN Art Awards since 1994, and Board Member of Singapore Tyler Print Institute (2000-03). In 1984 he represented Singapore at the ASEAN Art Symposium in Manila.

Since 1990 Thomas has published six coffee-table books documenting local and regional art, including “Southeast Asian Art – A New Spirit”.

Among his many awards is the Cultural Medallion Award, conferred by the Government in 1984 for his important contribution to art development in Singapore.

His paintings are in private and public collections around the world, and recent commissions include works for the Istana Negara, Singapore Press Holdings and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Source: MASS 2006


Thomas Yeo graduated from NAFA in 1960. He then studied art in London, first at the Chelsea School of Art and later at the Hammersmith College of Art and Architecture in the early 1960s. Yeo's works are inspired by nature and include both landscapes as well as abstract compositions in collage and mixed media. In City Vista, a work of the 1980s, there appears to be a mellowing of style when compared with his brash and boldly-coloured compositions of the 1960s. The work is of an ambiguous cityscape, suggestive of earth, sky and buildings. Warm, golden earth tones are used throughout and a sense of timelessness and tranquillity prevails, an effect achieved through the use of complex interlayering and the play of surface and depth of the collage medium. It appears to be a direct evolution of his earlier landscapes such as Autumn Warmth which feature naturalistic elements.


City Vista by Thomas Yeo. Year: 1983. Medium: Collage. Size: 121 x 183 cm.

Source: Paragraph and image by Kwok Kian Chow. Channels & Confluences: A History of Singapore Art. Singapore: National Heritage Board/Singapore Art Museum, 1996. Plate 90.


- 1958-60 Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts
- 1960-61 Chelsea School of Art, London
- 1961-64 Hammersmith College of Art and Architecture, London
- 1960-97 Thirty-five solo exhibitions in Singapore, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Australia
- 1962-99 Numerous group exhibitions in Singapore, ASEAN, UK, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, The Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and USA
- 1961-64 Lee Foundation Study Award
- 1971 First Prize, SIA Mural Competition
- 1983 Second Prize, UOB Painting of the Year Competition
- 1984 Cultural Medallion, Government of Singapore First Prize, UOB Painting of the Year Competition
- 1989 Heineken International Art Award, The Netherlands
- 1991 SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals Golden Circle Award, UK
- 1995 Pingat APAD (Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya) for dedication and creative contribution to the development of visual art in Singapore

Thomas Yeo does not set out to replicate nature exactly but rather to express his total experience of a particular place. Untitled, White Sands and Fire Mountain are arrangements of forms and colours that evoke for him the feeling of certain scenes. Painted in a mixture of water-based paint, they are visionary landscapes inspired by his remembrance of specific places. The artist does not describe everything that the eye perceives but selects the motifs - the delicate branches of a tree, a hint of a mountain or a lake - to develop his own lyrical form of semi-abstract landscape.

Golden Waves, evocative of the setting sun on the surface of the sea, conveys a powerful and exuberant sensation of motion. Joyous in its vibrant red monotone, it is thickly impastoed and ridged to give it a richly tactile quality.


Artist Thomas Yeo donates six prized works worth over $70,000 to NAFA

Artist and Cultural Medallion recipient, Thomas Yeo will be donating six masterpieces to the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts’ (NAFA) permanent art collection. Valued at a total of $70,000, the works are representative of Thomas Yeo’s artistic development from the early-1960s to today.

Three of the donated works will be displayed alongside 72 pieces of abstract artwork in various media at the artist’s upcoming solo exhibition, Thomas Yeo – Contrasting Images, from 28 May – 18 June 2005 at NAFA Galleries 1 and 2.

Born in Singapore in 1936, Thomas Yeo was schooled at NAFA between 1958 and 1960. He subsequently furthered his artistic pursuits in London at the Chelsea School of Art
and the Hammersmith College of Art & Architecture. In 1984, for his valuable contributions to art and culture in Singapore, Thomas Yeo was conferred the republic’s highest honour in that arena, the Cultural Medallion.

Over the past four decades, Thomas Yeo has established himself as an Asian artist whose works continue to renew with change. “In an age when the generation of creators and innovators are turning to new media and technology as a means to artistic expression, Thomas Yeo’s work is unique and exemplary,” said Ms Bridget Tracy Tan, Director (Gallery & Theatre) of NAFA and curator of the exhibition.

Contrasting Images traces the development and change of the artist’s work in the last nine years. The works are presented under three categories: abstracts, landscapes,
and a series of “heads and faces”. This exhibition records a journey of frustration and pleasant surprises in a contemporary language.

On NAFA being the co-organiser of this exhibition, Mr Choo Thiam Siew, President of NAFA, remarked: “A NAFA alumnus, Thomas Yeo is one of Singapore’s most prominent second-generation artists. I am heartened to learn that, despite his many commitments, Thomas still makes a conscious effort to contribute to the development of his alma mater. We are indeed honoured to receive the six works that he has generously contributed to our permanent collection."

Thomas Yeo – Contrasting Images will be officially opened by NAFA Council Chairman, Professor Cham Tao Soon on Saturday, 28 May 2005 at 6pm at the exhibition venue.

Event Details
Exhibition Dates : 29 May - 18 June 2005
(Closed on Sundays, except 29 May)
Exhibition Hours : 10.30am - 7pm
Venue : NAFA Galleries 1 & 2
80 Bencoolen Street, Singapore 189655
Admission : FREE
Enquiry Tel : 6512 4043

Source: NAFA press release


Thomas Yeo - 4 Years Journey

Price: US$10.51 (S$17.55*)
Region: Singapore
Format: Paperback, 54 pages
Published: 1996, Singapore, 1st Edition
ISBN: 981008045X
SB#: 026664

About This Book
This catalogue accompanied the 1996 Takashimaya exhibition of 1992-1996 works by the noted Singapore artist Thomas Yeo. Thomas is among the earliest Singapore artists to come into direct contact with the artist ferment existing in Europe and America in the early 1960's, bringing back to Singapore a new and fresh approach to art, which has had an important effect on the new generation of artists who emerged in the 1970's and 80's. An essay introduces the 30 studies in acrylic and mixed media and 15 gouache landscapes.


Singapore Sweepstakes: Foreign vs Local Art


Another limited factor is that the prestige of both Western and Chinese art is often difficult for Singapore's artists to compete against.

The problem came into sharp focus early this year with a controversy over the large number of foreign artworks commissioned by the developers of the city's two largest hotel and shopping centre projects.

Local artist Thomas Yeo was quoted in the The Straits Times newspaper as saying "it's a slap in the face. In other countries, the major art projects would never be given to foreign artists. Here we get others to tell us what culture is. Their culture. It's ridiculous."

There was particular resentment because the two large developments in question were large prestige jobs designed by big-name American architects, John Portman in the case of Marina Square and I. M. Pei for Raffles City. Some Singapore architects have come to resent the number of big foreign names including Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, who along with Pei will plan land use for the massive Marina South land reclamation project.

Soon after the foreign commissions were publicised, the Clean Rivers Steering Committee announced the largest-ever local art commission S$ 200,000 (US$ 99,010) to sculptor Elsie Yu to celebrate the river clean-up efforts. Then, Communications and Information Minister Yeo Ning Hong announced that Singaporean art would grace six new MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) stations. "After all, Singaporeans are going to be the people who use the stations most."

Source: Peter Schopert in FEER, Far East Economic Review, 3 March 1988