With a humble brush and an unending vibrant dream, Pateo walked into his cosy home studio and recounted his story of becoming one of Singapore’s celebrated artists. His journey as an artist and, finally, the UOB Painting of the Year Silver Medalist was not a straight path. Pateo set his first foot forward as a graphic and interior designer. He later ventured into the world of gemmology before finally picking up the brush as the artist we know of today. Such diverse background and wealth of experiences added to the depth and richness of his paintings which now serve as an inspiration to many, including his daughter, who most recently participated in a father-daughter duo exhibition alongside him at Pan Pacific Singapore last year.
Born in the 1940s, Pateo has lived through a rich and transformative period in Singapore's history – from the Japanese occupation to independence and beyond. His childhood memories of these times, amidst the challenges and changes, are the very inspirations that drive his unique and captivating art.
Now at over 80 years old, Pateo insists on painting from memory without the aid of any visual references. Each brushstroke laid upon the canvas tells a deeply moving story rich with history, transporting viewers to a time that once was, a time when simplicity meant joy. In cherishing memories, Pateo’s paintings are a testament to his unwavering recollection and the depth of human emotions.
With his distinctive style, Pateo combines exaggerated gestural figures with heavy sgraffito techniques. His dramatic caricature-like expressions are a refreshing contrast to the solemnity often associated with scenes from the past. This breathes new life into the memories, casting a celebratory light on the past and mingling nostalgia with humour.
His winning piece, Gliding Down Ann Siang Hill Road, reminded us just that. Despite living in a post-war era where building facades were marred with cracks evidently from bomb blasts, we witness, through the lens of the artist, the unhindered joy from the children zooming down the Ann Siang Hill on a trishaw. Ann Siang Hill still exists today, but despite having refurbished shopfronts and perfectly asphalted roads, there now lacks certain innocence and blithe which ones permeated the surrounding air.
Indeed, despite being an established artist in his own right, Pateo remains a true gemmologist – similar to how he discovered great value from a pool of old ores, he aided us, through his paintings, in unfolding new gem from the past that is to be cherished in the present.
Registration for the 42nd UOB Painting of the Year competition is now open. Visit and submit your entries through the website: