Arts & Culture

Audrey Yeo: Understanding Art Enhances Experience of Life

On art appreciation

Words by
b-side staff

Featured images: Natsuko Teruya (black & white portrait), Ahmad Iskandar (coloured portrait with Fyerool Darma paintings in background)

Since opening its gallery space at Gillman Barracks in 2013, Yeo Workshop has been a familiar name at events such as Art After Dark and Art Stage. The contemporary art gallery has also represented artist projects and produced exhibitions and gallery-based programming. Be it talks, symposiums or guiding research, Yeo Workshop has it all.

To bolster its aim of promoting the works of contemporary local and international artists, the gallery has started a project called Arnoldii Arts Club.

Arnoldii Arts Club is a course-based arts club with a focus on art history, production and markets.

By providing a showcase space for artists and opening a club to educate audiences, Yeo Workshop is actively making space for dialogues to happen between the creation, viewing and art appreciation. It is a space that is hard to come by locally, and it is definitely a great asset to the country.

Audrey Yeo, the owner and producer of Yeo Workshop, shares more with B-Side on the gallery’s work and what we can do to further art appreciation in Singapore.

Marcin Dudek: Sovereign Heads, Performance on Opening Night, 9 Mar – 22 April 2018. Image courtesy of the Artist and Yeo Workshop.

What is the relationship between Yeo Workshop and Arnoldii Arts Club?

Yeo Workshop is our work to represent emerging or emergent artists and place their works to collections and curate them in shows. The Singapore Arts Club and Arnoldii Arts Club is for art appreciation. We conduct tours, dinners and parties for people to engage with art with lifestyle entertainment. The artists we represent with the gallery seem to be a bit avant-garde or require a bit of engagement intellectually. So on the flip side, we have created a vehicle where people can have guided engagement through curated art experiences in Singapore or other countries. We hope that eventually people will convert and see what the fuss is in this multi-billion dollar industry, but more than the commercial value of it, the multi facets of it — its proliferation in academia and lifestyle.

The gallery has done some very ambitious exhibitions for our artists, hosting large-scale installations. We have been told that our openings are definitely eye-opening.

Stephanie Jane Burt: O Dear What Can the Matter Be, 2 Sept – 23 Oct 2016. Image Courtesy of the Artist and Yeo Workshop.

Will you describe your philosophy in life and how does that translate to the setting up and/or managing of Yeo Workshop?

My philosophy is to invest in an art scene — art can change society and expand our field of thinking. And that is exactly why it is worth investing in. The gallery is an arduous business and I admire my peers very much, fellow gallerists and those who tire endlessly for the scene, behind the scenes. We hope to be able to support some of these efforts to shine a light on South East Asian art and those who work for it at an upcoming project during the Singapore Art Week in January 2018. We have an amazing team on this, but more to come soon.

Sarah Choo Jing: Accelerated Intimacy. Exhibition and Whiskey Bar, 19 Jan – 4 Mar 2018. Image Courtesy of the Artist and Yeo Workshop.

What is art appreciation to you? And how do we appreciate art?

Art is in everything and in life. Having an understanding in art enhances your experience of life. With art, it’s about being instinctual for me and also about keeping up with seeing and seeing to increase my knowledge and aesthetic eye.

Abdominal BASS Cavern Of A Stricken HEART_2015 to 2016_Documentation 4_Image by Jin and courtesy of the artist and Arnoldii Arts Club

What is the current state of art appreciation in Singapore and what more do you think can be done in this aspect to raise the public’s appreciation towards art?

I think Singapore has the hardware down, which is the most difficult part of building anything. We have a committed public government infrastructure that has increased art literacy through allowing exposure and proliferation of art throughout the island. I think there is a plentitude of art events one can go to on any given day. Most are even free. The National Arts Council is a force to be reckoned with. We have world-class museums and institutions, and you can trust a growing infrastructure here.

On the private side, while there is a slow and stealthy demand from high-end luxury developers, luxury lifestyle brands and luxury retailers for art, I think it would be encouraging to see a faster growth within the mainstream and middle-class lifestyle, commercial retail and development companies that could really build or further build art into the DNA of their company cultures and brands. These brands have a large mainstream reach, and they could really bring more people into the realm of the arts.

What is next for you, Yeo Workshop and Arnoldii Arts Club?

The Singapore Arts Club will be commissioning talks and writings by some of the most interesting and critical Singaporean artists. Pairing them up. To engage with the larger community, we have industry doyens who are experts in the field of law, branding and design, and finance who will moderate these talks. We have worked with designers such as Sant and Chantal to curate the design. These will mostly be held at Gillman Barracks or other locations.

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