Born in 1938 and having graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Art, Koh Sia Yong has been an illustrator and artist for over fifty years. Known for his unique artistic style and excellent painting techniques, he is one of the most outstanding and highly collected artists in Singapore today. His work is highly exhibited and he is involved in the commercial development of art through magazines, art catalogues, political cartoons and such. The artist is most known for his oil painting depictions of rich culture scenes of Southeast Asia through bold and unrestrained brushstrokes.
Koeh’s oil paintings are diverse in subject matters. The realistic and expressive approaches are two major characteristics of his work. Many of his figure paintings describe the indigenous conditions and customs of Bali Island, Indonesia. His brushes capture the wavy figures of Bali women. Rich and intensive colors presented the touching scene of Bali ladies’ singing and dancing as well as their traditional costumes and hair decorations.
Koeh’s landscape paintings usually depict scenes of the Singapore River, old streets, temples and volcanoes etc. Through the bold and unrestrained brush strokes, the artist not only represented objects realistically, but also expressed his inner feelings as well.
Koeh has mastered good techniques in the application of color and light. Contrasting colors such as yellow and purple, red and green, blue and orange, appeared often in his works. By employing complementary colors to coincide with these bright colors, the artist created a vibrant, gorgeous and yet refined visual effect in his oil paintings.
During the creation process, Koeh always spends time in observing and producing the subtle changes of color tones, light and shades. And through his thorough study, his finishing touches help bring the works to life. For example, in one of his works, the artist applied a slight tone of red on the black surfaces, which perfectly pictured the Indonesian young girl’s dark brown skin under the sunlight.
In Koeh’s landscape painting, various treatments can be observed. He likes to use bold, heavy and dark outlines to depict Singapore old street scenes while using thinner, lighter and more vivid colors to reflect the spirit of modern Singapore.