Frankie Yeo gave up a career with the Singapore Air Force to indulge in his passion for painting and puppetry. City Times keeps step with the artist

By Ilyas Qureshi (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Fri 27 Aug 2004, 4:45 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:33 AM

It's time to bid adieu.

Yet another edition of Dubai Summer Surprises - a festival for children seeking fun and education during the long and arduous summer break - comes to a close this weekend. And how packed full of surprises it was, the 70-days of DSS 2004. But if there was one surprise, which isn't any more of a surprise is that the majority now avoid vacations just so that they don't miss out on any of the surprises!

Isn't that a proof of success of this summer event? Well, no big surprise there. For Dubai has that reputation to overcome the odds, even those which nature has imposed.

So, that 'with-it' sentiment was on show right up to this last week of the DSS - the Colour Suprises Week. A number of parents and children voiced their opinion at the BurJuman Centre where a large turnout was noticed on last Tuesday evening.

It seemed like everyone wanted to get the best out of the last few days of the enthralling 70-day sojourn. There was this mother of two, who had come down all the way from Abu Dhabi: "We are here since morning waiting for the event to start," said Dr Fauzia Mubashir. And guess what? The event started in the evening, 5pm!

"We came in early because we didn't want to miss out on any of the fun. Last year, we did miss out on many events. That was the price we paid for being late. This time we made it a point to come in early," said Fauzia, sporting a 100-watt smile.

Nine-year-old Mujtaba and six-year-old Hadiqa - with a butterfly painted on her face and a colourful piece of cloth in her hand - are impatient. They alternate between mom Fauzia, and their brother who is busy splashing colours on a white canvas.

Meanwhile, Vidhita Sajnani is waiting outside the pavilion. Son Tanishq is having a ball inside. "We postoned our holidays this time too so that we could be part of the fun. My children insisted on staying, but we know how difficult it's to control them during the holidays. Thankfully, they behave when with other children, spending time drawing. The event really helps instil discipline in them."

Two friends Junita Alphonso and Blanche Munzi are shopping mall hoppers during the festival. They first went to Al Ghurair City but couldn't get the coupons for the children's activities due to huge demand and then decided to come here. Their kids, Justine and Niclolette liked the Colour Surprises the most and went out every evening to have fun at the malls. They too chorused the much-liked DSS slogan 'big fun for little ones.'

The family was keenly watching Singapore artist Frankie Yeo working with his airbrush. "We are fortunate to be here in Dubai as we get to see top artists and performers from all over the world. It's just not possible to see them in India. Now you get to observe their talent on some film award shows but Dubai has something or the other happening, which entertains the whole family," said Junita.

Splashing colour into the week is Singapore artist Frankie Yeo, an airbrush expert who dances to the 1950s rock 'n' roll album, Shake Rattle and Roll as he paints the portraits of animals which are his favourite subjects. Frankie completed the portrait of a colourful African parrot and sat down to talk. The artist, who was discovered by Wael Hussain, marketing manager of Magic Land in his studio in Arab Street a couple of years ago, said the art scene in the UAE is very vibrant just like in Singapore, which is like a renaissance city for art. "It's nice that Dubai is inviting foreign artists to showcase their talent here. Like music, art also has a universal language which can help fill in the cultural gap. I am impressed by the response to my paintings as a lot of youngsters come up and watch me paint. I am sure I must be kindling the desire somewhere in them to paint and to broaden their perspective on art," said the artist, who combines spray painting with more traditional techniques.

"It so happens that we humans are good at imitating. If you see somebody do something nice you are immediately inspired to follow. And if the children who see me paint go home and pick up the brush, my purpose is served. That's also the aim of the Colour Surprises Week and I have no hestitation in saying that the DSS is one of the best city festivals I have seen in the world. I am proud to be a part of this bustling event, which inspires children to be more creative," said the self-taught artist who left his mechanical job in the Singapore Air Force to dedicate time to his passion of painting and puppetry.

On the question as to why he works so fast, Frankie informs that he has a deadline of two hours within which he has to produce two masterpieces that are usually close-ups with lot of splashes in the background. "My paintings are like three-dimensional images. I believe in doing something different and my use of colours are quite good as the images seem to jump off the canvas."

There is no denying this claim as the speed and dextirity with which he executes these images are proof of his immense skill. So, the deadlines are hardly a problem for him. Frankie's creations will be displayed at prominent shopping malls and public places in Dubai.

Hala Lootah, head of the Colour Surprises organising committee for the Department of Health and Medical Services, said the Singapore artist's work has been received well around the city and is a valuable experience as it exposes viewers to a new style of art complementing the theme of the week. "Frankie's entertaining style of painting can be seen today at Hall 5 A of the Dubai World Trade Centre," she informed.

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