Yeo Kaa: A Successful Unconventional Artist

7 Dec 2021

Yeo Kaa was previously an Advertising major from the College of the Holy Spirit in Manila, dealing with immense difficulty with her academics and diagnosis of clinical depression and Trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder. Despite the constant bombardment from her teachers and personal afflictions alike, she achieved her first solo exhibition in 2014, titled Blood and Stitches at Secret Fresh Gallery, Manila.

She is renowned for her representation of pain, violence and occasional references to suicide with vibrant and delightful illustrations. Only through closer inspection, will viewers unveil the devastating truths behind the cheery paintings. Yeo Kaa explains, “My art is a personal journal and where I share my sentiments, struggles, and anxieties, but aims to connect with the audience by way of its entanglements with contemporary life, current events, and broader human experience.”

It is through her works where she is able to mitigate the horrifying realities of the human condition with animated characters and bring comfort to viewers’ eyes.

“I imagine a world set ablaze with vivid and bursting colors, inspired by pop art and animation, to stage the mundane and render it enchanting to the eye. Often, I mix my candy-flavored palette and doll-life figuration with dark and disturbing imagery of violence, infliction of pain, and body mutilations, among others, to shock and evoke discomfort to some, while easing the sensitivity of confronting real-life horrors to others. It is the tension between the pleasant and naïve, and the dreadful and irreverent where I locate my art’s potency.”

Image: Yeo Kaa working in her studio, 2021; Courtesy of Manila Bulletin.