YEOH KEAN THAI
b. Pahang, 1978
Signed and dated 'THAI 96' (lower right)
Oil on canvas
91.5cm x 116.5cm
Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur.
ESTIMATE RM 8,000 - 12,000
PRICE REALISED RM 14,560
A message on decay, discardment, separation, global amalgamation and search for identity laid out in one canvas. Having sparked interest in addressing environmental issues in 1992 when it was not the ‘trend’ then, Thai finds that metal is the perfect symbol for him to call for worldwide attention to environmental issues as it is “nature’s response to mankind’s habit and culture”, as quoted from an interview with the artist. The subject matter allows him to look beyond the materialism and consider how one should live, to avoid the rusting and corroding of personal, social and environmental lives. Thai foresees the consequences of a consumerist society, often consuming at random and accumulating a deceptive numerical net worth and seeks to use his works as a sign of warning of what is to come.
Presented here is an amalgamation of various corroded metal such as kettle, water pipe, car wheel, gas cylinder, chain, interweaved among other items. Painted in a dexterous manner, Yeoh Kean Thai captures the colours and porous surface texture of red and green rust against a white background.
A graduate of Kuala Lumpur College of Art (1989 – 1992), Yeoh Kean Thai has garnered international recognition through prestigious awards, including the Phillip Morris Art Award in 1997, the Freeman Fellowship in 2008, the same year he exhibited at the Beijing Olympics and the Commonwealth Award - International Art Residency. He has been creating works in relation to metal and rust ever since he won the Phillip Morris award in 1997. The award-winning piece was tediously completed in less than a year. Having to research on the oxidation process and progression of rust, he patiently experimented and monitored the decomposition while cutting, sculpting and composing the metal pieces with only regular pliers and his own bare hands. He was also the first artist from Malaysia to have work featured during New York’s Asian Art Week in 2008. His solo exhibitions included Code Red, Action to Neutralise (2011); Crossing (2008) and Links (2007). He has participated in a number of group exhibitions namely Truth & Fiction Are Not Strangers, Tribes Gallery, New York, United States of America (2011); Asian Overview Roma, Villa De Santis, Rome, Italy (2009); Paths of Thought, Gallery Il Ramo d’oro, Naples, Italy (2008) and Tashkent Biennale International Exhibition, Uzbekistan (2005).
Profile: Yeoh Kean Thai , Asian Art Newspaper (UK), December 2008.