Leo Hee Tong
Comments on article: InfopediaTalk
Leo Hee Tong (b. 1940, Singapore - ) is an award-winning artist who has exhibited extensively in Singapore and around the world. While his earlier works focused on the depiction of the idyllic rural environment, especially that of villages and female villagers, he subsequently embraced Western abstract expressionism along with cubism. Yet, he still places a premium on the notion of compositional void prevalent in Chinese art. The pigeon was a recurring motif in the paintings he produced from the mid-1970s to the 1980s.
Leo studied art at Singapore's Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts from 1957 to 1960 and was strongly influenced by his teacher Cheong Soo Pieng. Under Cheong's influence, Leo began to paint villages and sarong-clad women in his figurative and batik paintings.
However, a trip to Japan to study advertising and fine art in 1973 made him realise the need to possess his own distinctive art form. This led him to embrace Western abstract expressionism and cubism. The pigeon series therefore represented his first attempt to break free from past restraints and to present himself as a creative artist.
To Leo, the pigeon symbolised the two key elements of peace and freedom that he desired to express through his art. His pigeons were depicted in various stages of flight or movement and amidst rough-textured surfaces, suggesting the change of seasons.
Over time, the textured surfaces that functioned as backdrop for his pigeon series were made to occupy centrestage as he began to focus more on walls, doorways and windows ravaged by time. He painted the decayed walls, doorways and windows of the old Bugis Street in Singapore and those at Tanjung Pinang in Indonesia, in an attempt to capture the traces of memories left behind in the various marks, stains, scratches and discolourations. Forms, if present, were analysed according to the principles of early cubism.
1973 : City Centre, Suma, Japan.
1992 : Expressions of Time, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
2007 : Expressions of Time - Revisited, Singapore.
1968 : Five-Man Art Exhibition, National Library Building, Singapore.
1969 : Salon Malaysia Art Competition Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
1969 : Three-Man Autumn Art Exhibition, Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Singapore.
1973 : Two-Man Art Exhibition, Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Singapore.
1976 : Inaugural Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1979 : Modern Art Exhibition, Taichung Cultural Centre, Taiwan.
1980 : "Contemporary Singapore Paintings", 5th Festival of Asian Art Exhibition, City Hall, Hong Kong.
1981 : 15th International Grand Prix of Contemporary Art, Congress Centre Auditorium, Monte Carlo, Monaco.
1981 : 1st Exhibition of Asian Art, Regency International Hotel, Bahrain.
1981 : Five-Man Art Exhibition, Raffles Hotel, Singapore.
1981 : ASEAN Exhibition of Painting and Photography, Singapore.
1982 : Inaugural Exhibition of the Japan International Artists Society, Japan.
1983 : ASEAN Exhibition of Painting and Photography, Singapore.
1984 : Singapore Art 1974-83, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1985 : 4th ASEAN Exhibition of Painting and Photography, Singapore.
1985-86 : Modern Art Mobile Exhibition, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan.
1988 : Artistes Contemporains De Singapur Le Grand Palais, Paris, France.
1988 : 1st Exhibition of Federation of Asian Art Association, Taiwan Museum, Taiwan.
1988 : Singapore Artists, SOGO Art Galleries, Yokohama, Kobe and Sapporo, Japan.
1988 : Second Decade: Masterpieces from Private Collections, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1989 : Twenty Singapore Artists for New York Art Expo Exhibition, Jacob K. Javits Convention Centre, New York, United States.
1989 : 1st Bru-Sin Art Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Negara Brunei Darussalam.
1990 : Singapore Artists Speak Art Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1990 : 5th Asian International Art Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
1990 : 12 Contemporary Singapore Artists, Oriental Culture, University of East Asia, Macau.
1991 : 2nd Bru-Sin Art Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1991 : "Change", 20 Singapore Artists Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1992 : Asian International Art Exhibition, Tagawa Museum of Art, Japan.
1992 : Artseen Exhibition, National Art Gallery & Museum Building, Wellington, New Zealand.
1992 : 7th Asian International Art Exhibition, Gedung Merdeka, Bandung, Indonesia.
1993 : Singapore Artist Directory Exhibition, Empress Place Museum, Singapore.
2004 : "Mapping Asia", 18th Asia International Art Show, The Modern Art Society Singapore, Singapore.
2005 : Works of Singapore Artists: Ang Ah Tee, Tan Choh Tee, Leo Hee Tong & Chan Chang How, Oviato Gallery, Singapore.
2006 : Singapore's Top Artists Commemorate A Decade (1997-2007), Telok Kurau Studios, Singapore.
2006 : Important Second Generation Artists, DLR Gallery, Singapore.
1975 : Special Award, National Day Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1980 : Special Award, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Alumni Association, Singapore.
1981 : Creative Prize, Singapore and Taiwan Modern Contemporary Painting Exhibition, Singapore.
1981 : 4th Prize, Singapore Innovations in Contemporary Art Competition Exhibition, Singapore.
1982 : Distinction Award, UOB Painting of the Year Competition, Singapore.
1983 : Tan Tze Chor Art Award, Singapore Art Society, Singapore.
1983 : Overseas Educational Tour Award Winner, National Day Art Exhibition, Singapore.
1984 : Highly Commended Award, Australian Art Award, Singapore.
1986 : Distinction Award, UOB Painting of the Year Competition, Singapore.
1988 : Distinction Award, UOB Painting of the Year Competition, Singapore.
1990 : Tan Tze Chor Art Award, Singapore Art Society, Singapore.
1990 : Merit Award, IBM Singapore Art Competition, Singapore.
1992 : Distinction Award, UOB Painting of the Year Competition, Singapore.
Nurhaizatul Jamila Jamil
Chia, W. H. (1992). Of doors, windows and walls: Leo Hee Tong's new paintings. In H. T. Leo, Expression of time. Singapore: National Museum Art Gallery.
(Call no.: RSING 759.95957 LEO)
DLR Gallery. (2006). Events. Retrieved January 13, 2009, from http://www.dlrgallery.com/events/2006.html
Koh, B. S. (Ed.). (1993). Singapore: Places, poems, paintings (pp. 204-205). Singapore: Art and Artist Speak.
(Call no.: RSING 700.95957 SIN)
Oviato Art Gallery. (n.d.). Exhibitions. Retrieved January 13, 2009, from http://www.oviato.com/exhibitions.asp
Save Joo Chiat Cause. (2006). Joo Chiat art stories. Retrieved January 13, 2009, from http://www.myjoochiat.com/creative-arts-stories.htm
SingaporeArt.org. Singapore art. Retrieved January 13, 2009, from http://www.biotechnics.org/Nexus/2004_07_04_nexusarchive.html
The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.