Those words from Belinda Tan still rang inside me as I started writing my story here, “You have to meet Yew Chong and check out his artworks and what he is doing, you would definitely be very interested!”. That was something along the lines of how I was introduced to Yip Yew Chong by Belinda Tan, I have to confess that Belinda was definitely spot on and I sincerely thank her for introducing Yew Chong to me and our group of arts, heritage and culture enthusiasts. This is my visual story of meeting and following this great visual artist, on his artistic journey over the years into this “I Paint my Singapore” – Familiar Scenes of Home by Yip Yew Chong.
Following the creative works of Yew Chong
My first time meeting Yew Chong was at the Substation in 2021, visiting his exhibition Stories from Yesteryear with Belinda Tan. I shared my story, “Nostalgia and Beautiful Stories from Yesteryear”, that was my first article coverage on Yew Chong. Another event that I met Yew Chong again was at the Malay Heritage Centre in 2022, it’s about “Some fowl play exploration and a security cat at Malay Heritage Centre”, of chickens and a cute chubby cat.
Since 2021, I followed Yew Chong’s Instagram and updates on his paintings around Chinatown, Little India, Everton Road, Kampong Glam and Sentosa, just some of the locations where Yew Chong’s artworks can be found.
In July 2021, Yew Chong shared in his social media post on his dream to create a long canvas painting. Starting in August 2021, Yew Chong began to work on his first panel, a journey that would take 1.5 years, giving rise to 27 scenes on panels. With regular updates on his Instagram account, his followers/supporters were all very excited in this particular artistic journey that we can only had some glimpses/sneak peaks from his Instagram account.
When Yew Chong came to his final panel, he decided to give his followers/supporters a real life glimpse on his massive painting project, via a live painting.
Live painting at Tiong Bahru CC in January 2023
The first real life glimpse into Yew Chong’s massive painting project was partially revealed to his followers and supporters when he held a live painting at Tiong Bahru CC in January 2023. When I saw the panels that Yew Chong was painting on, I was in awe of what could be the final layout of paintings could be like.
At that point in time, I was really looking forward to view the entire set of panel paintings joined together, wondering how it would look like.
Art of Joy Book Launch at Tiong Bahru CC
Prior to the official opening of “I Paint my Singapore” exhibition, Yew Chong had a book launch, the “Art of Joy” Book launch at Tiong Bahru CC on 18th November 2023. I didn’t pre-order his book, therefore I was lucky to get a copy of his book on the launch day! Of course, I managed to get his “Art of Joy” book autographed by the artist himself, when the crowds left and we were one of the last few supporters that stayed behind.
Yew Chong’s immense and heartwarming support can be seen from the crowds present for his book launch, whether to collect their pre-order book, or buying it during the book launch event, and staying behind to listen to the great visual artist himself sharing his stories and journeys, and an interactive, heartwarming and fun fireside chat with those attending the book launch event.
Also a special shout out to this very lovely and friendly big family, Faith and Charles, and their five children at the book launch event. The passion, commitment, support and appreciation of arts, heritage and culture, can be seen and felt from their support of Yew Chong in their journeys together. If you purchase the book “Art of Joy”, you can read more in-depth about this amazing family, they were interviewed and mentioned inside the book.
Finally, it’s coming to life “I Paint my Singapore – Familiar Scenes of Home by Yip Yew Chong!
Following Yew Chong’s progress on his Instagram over the years, and being up close to his live painting at Tiong Bahru CC in January 2023, I was eagerly awaiting for his exhibition to come to life! It took me a few visits (3 till date when this article was published) to “I Paint my Singapore” exhibition to fully absorb, immerse and recall my own familiar memories of home that are depicted inside Yew Chong’s paintings.
A total of 27 scenes, 60m of intriguing, detailed, nostalgic and heartwarming painting artworks of Yew Chong’s memories and scenes of home familiar to him coming together. Looking at his visuals on Instagram will no do him and yourself any justice, you have to view in person, up close and personal.
Deep inside me, I can relate to many of the many different memories, sceneries, how life was like in Singapore back in the 80s and 90s for me (I am in that not that old nor that young category). As for those who are in their 50s and above, all these scenes will definitely trigger and invoke an even greater sense of nostalgia and memories for those generations.
Some nostalgic memories coming back to me
- Pulau Tekong
- Heartland (Hawker Centre)
- Heartland (Town Centre)
- McDonald’s at Liat Towers
- National Library (Red Bricks) at Stamford Road
- Corner mamak shop
- Dove and Pelican playground
- Old National Stadium
Live Painting by Yew Chong
Yew Chong is doing a live painting during this “I Paint my Singapore” exhibition, I dropped by and visited again on the first scheduled day, 12th December 2023, taking a glimpse into what he is going to paint next. Here is the start of his scheduled live painting, I am planning to drop by again next week after my lunch appointment in the town area.
Take a look below at Yew Chong’s live painting at this exhibition, can you see which part of Singapore is he drawing and painting on this new panel? Stay tuned and follow his updates as he works towards the completion.
An icon, an inspiration, A very humble, down to earth and friendly visual artist
From that time in 2021 when I first met Yew Chong at the Substation, followed his Instagram on his painting adventures till date, I get to know an icon, an inspiration, he is also a very humble, down to earth and friendly visual artist.
No matter how busy he is, he would try his best to interact and chat with his supporters/followers. Whenever I visited him painting his artworks, I always managed to get a short chat and catch up with him, asking him about the paintings, the significance, history, stories behind them. My visual storytelling and photography workflow are that I am mostly behind, concentrating on the subject/person that I am photographing, I am seldom seen in the photographs. Yew Chong was really good at taking selfies with his group of supporters and followers, his warm and friendly interactions.
There was one occasion in Chinatown when I was photographing and watching him paint the Clog Maker & Kitchenware Shop, he said to me, “I haven’t taken a selfie with you” and we proceed to take a selfie together. That gesture to me, meant a lot because I am usually the one photographing and not being photographed. That also showed a lot about Yew Chong as a person, he is down to earth nature, humble and friendly, and now you know why he attracts such a diverse range of loyal supporters/followers from young children to the elderly folks.
If you like to know more about Yew Chong, his journeys and his visual artist journey, I highly recommend you to purchase his book “Art of Joy”, together with the “I Paint my Singapore” picture spread book. I bought both and I was honoured to get both autographed by him! Heh, since I got both books autographed, I definitely had to get my photograph taken with Yew Chong!
Reading “Art of Joy”, and through the various interactions with Yew Chong over the time leading up to this exhibition, I got to understand more in-depth on his paintings, why and how he chose to paint in such an artistic direction.
Inside the book “Art of Joy”, Yew Chong shared about the criticisms that he received, from his artistic directions and approach to painting the scenes. Inevitably, no matter how good a person in his/her creative talents, they are definitely going to get some flak, coming from my very own personal experiences as a photographer/visual storyteller. For Yew Chong to receive such levels and diverse criticisms, that would only meant he’s onto and doing something great.
“My art is to invoke emotions and draw out their own memories”, words by Yew Chong, from his book “Art of Joy”, Chapter 11 – A Long, Long Canvas. You can write in the most beautiful and eloquent words, yet you can’t beat the most heartwarming emotions, connections and interactions that the person have in his or her heart-to-heart connections with the paintings. This form of artwork painting that is a combination of imagination from reality, yet so surreal and realistic at times, like a time machine visual storytelling journey that Singaporeans of young and old can embark on. A brilliant mix of reality and imagination, a creative artist in an international class of his own.
I reckon a number of Yew Chong’s supporters/followers/visitors shed a tear inside them as they reminisce their good old days (some might say so) from the deep inside heart-to-heart connections with Yew Chong’s “I Paint my Singapore” exhibition.
Not going to lie, I did shed a tear deep inside me, as some of my childhood and young adult days invoked quite a lot of emotions and memories as I observed each and every panel on display, rediscovering myself again into those decades that were long gone.
Yew Chong shared, “I paint for ordinary men in the street – Singaporeans” in his book “Art of Joy”. In my personal humble opinion, I strongly feel that Yew Chong’s “I Paint my Singapore” has united and bonded generations of Singaporeans from young to old, together with their hearts and souls through common memories, sceneries and living, a new era of passing down stories from the past/current generation to the future generations of Singapore, even in the form of imagination from reality. All these make it priceless, and beyond some of our wildest imaginations.
Thank you very much Yew Chong, for painting our Singapore for all of us Singaporeans!
“I Paint my Singapore” – Familiar Scenes of Home by Yip Yew Chong
- Venue: Raffles City Convention Centre Level 4 Bencoolen Foyer
- Exhibition Dates: 30th November 2023 to 1st January 2024
- Opening Hours: 10am to 8pm Daily
- Free Entry
Scheduled Live Painting
- Dates: 12, 13, 19, 20 and 26 December 2023
- Time: 1pm to 5pm
Books by Yip Yew Chong
Art of Joy – Narrative Book by authored by Woon Tai Ho
- Bookstores: Kinokuniya (Singapore & KL), Popular, WHSmith Airport, Epigram Bookstore, NUS Coop, Book Bar
- Online: World Scientific Publishing, Kino, Epigram, Lazada, Amazon.SG
I Paint my Singapore – Familiar Scenes of Home (Picture Spread Book)
- Bookstores: Kinokuniya, Popular, City Book Room, Tango Mango, Book Bar, National Gallery
- Online: Kino, Epigram, Booksmart, Amazon.SG