Self-taught mural artist Yip Yew Chong brings to life the Singapore of yore through his life-sized paintings that tell the story of the country’s rich cultural history.
PHOTO YIP YEW CHONG
ingaporean Yip Yew Chong, 47, showcases slices of life in old Singapore through his murals that depict scenes of daily life in an era lost to time. From a typical kampung (village) scene of a Malay family living harmoniously alongside a Chinese family in traditional wooden houses (above) to a housemaid from the olden days handwashing sarong kebayas (traditional costume worn by South-east Asian women), his art helps to connect both Singaporeans and foreigners to the history of the communities living in the neighbourhoods that he paints in.
He was inspired to paint murals after chancing upon Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic’s mural in Singapore’s Victoria Street. With time to spare after quitting his job in June 2015, Yip managed to persuade the owner of a terrace house near where he lived to let him paint two sets of murals on the outer walls despite not having any previous experience doing so.
As his murals gained popularity, Yip, who is an accountant by training, received commissions from small businesses and resident communities in other parts of Singapore to paint murals that reflect its heritage. His dream is to create murals in Chinatown, where he had lived for the first 26 years of his life, and to paint murals in Singapore’s Little India that tell the story of the South Asian community. He says: “I hope to recreate icons, scenes and the atmosphere of South Asia for the many South Asian workers who gather there on weekends, to let them feel at home.”