The Great Wave Over the Island of Yesterday 2019

Just like how Hokusai's 'The Great Wave' is a portrayal of fishing boats at the mercy of the crushing force of the ocean, this painting suggests our delicate existence with nature, something which we take so much for granted in highly cultivated cities. Dioramic models of apartment blocks, tropical trees and flowers, a beach and the crest of a wave sit atop a stone table set in an enclosed room, with a single window illuminating what appears to be a distant view of the outside. The external light and the enclosed nature of the diorama symoblize the balance and solidarity between the built environment and nature. Without excess to the outside world, we will be an island in darkness, without our usual comforts and luxuries, but if we are willing to reach out and let the light in, harmony and balance will be restored and life will become rich and fulfilling once again.

Medium: Oil on Canvas

I Can See the Fireworks from Far, Far Away 2020

This is a painting based on memories of my parents taking me and my brother to high rise apartment blocks to see fireworks being set off during the yearly National Day celebrations while we were growing up. Painted while I was living and working in New York and reminiscing about home, the painting combines elements of New York's landscape with Singapore's. Bridges, ferries, boats, water bodies and the brown residential blocks along New York's Upper East Side conjoin with housing projects and terraced houses nestled amidst lush tropical trees and flora. Two different islands from two different continents and cultures are brought together in a single imaginary landscape, suggesting that fireworks, a universal sign of joy, celebration and happiness, will always be there for those who choose to see it.

Dimensions: 97x142cm
Medium: Oil on Linen

Bringing Home, Home 2020

This painting began while I was living and working abroad in the United States and was finished upon my return to Singapore during the Covid-19 crisis of 2020. I combined motifs from my local surroundings such as an aircraft carrier, and factories where my studio is located in Brooklyn, New York, with distinctly Singapore horizon in the distance. Wildlife and flora such as birds, butterflies and other mysterious creatures adorn the skies, beckoning a ship laden with apartment blocks – a universal symbol of an abode, into a seemingly familiar yet unordinary world. Slowly, but surely, like a slow lumbering ship, hope and promise will return to our shores yet again while we await it with patience, keen eyes and spirits.

Dimensions: 92x184cm
Medium: Oil on Canvas

Note: The text above was written by the Artist. No modification was made by COCA.

Leonard Yang


Born in Singapore at a time when the country was rapidly undergoing social and economic transitions from third world to first, Leonard spent his childhood discovering unused back roads, hidden vistas, and pockets of nature off the beaten gravel roads that were sprouting up everywhere in the country. Leonard’s paintings shed light on ethnic ways of life, memory, erasure, gentrification, climate change and urbanization in metropolises.

He most recently held a solo exhibition at Jalan Besar Salon Singapore, as well as group exhibitions at Local Project Art Space, La Bodega Gallery, and Gallery MC, in New York. Internationally, Leonard has exhibited in The Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore (ICAS), The Visual Arts Development Association (VADA) Singapore, Dongdaemun Design Centre, Korea, and the National Gallery Indonesia. Leonard studied at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (BFA 2015), and Parsons, The New School for Design, New York, NY (MFA 2019).

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