‘I paint from imagination’: Artist Yip Yew Chong on his 60m painting of historical Singapore scenes

'I paint from imagination': Artist Yip Yew Chong on his 60m painting of historical Singapore scenes

“It invokes nostalgia, a certain sense of reconnecting with a bygone era,” Mr Quek said, adding that it gives him a homely and comforting feeling.

Mr Quek, who now lives in Florida and discovered Mr Yip’s art through social media around two years ago, happened to be in Singapore visiting family at the time of the live painting sessions.

“This is a treat for me, to have the opportunity to see him do this live,” he said.


For all the support from the community, however, Mr Yip points out that he is not without his critics. 

Some take issue with the content of his paintings, while others criticise his technical skills.

“I am not formally trained and I paint from imagination … not historically accurate,” said Mr Yip, who became a full-time artist in 2018 after working in the accounting sector for 25 years.

The balance between aesthetics, self-expression and historical accuracy was the main difficulty in painting the 60m canvas work, he said. People also may expect canvas paintings to be more like fine art, compared to murals where precision is less important.

“For this type of painting – semi-realistic to realistic – people expect it to be historically accurate, but I can’t.

“Because I have to join Tiong Bahru to Chinatown, Chinatown to Singapore River. How can I do it? I have to put a lot of imagination,” he said.

“But to balance that is a big challenge because I can’t meet everybody’s expectations.”