Art What! Arts Singapore

Art What!: Winners of 2020 UOB Painting of the Year announced

Screenshot 2020-12-11 at 7.53.11 AM

From left: Mr Zhang Chunlei and Mr Emil Nicodemus Chew, who won the UOB Painting of the Year (Singapore) and 2020 Most Promising Artist of the Year (Singapore) respectively

UOB has conferred the 2020 UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year (POY) award to Mr Prabu Perdana, a 36-year-old artist from Bandung, West Java, for his painting titled Isolated Garden. Mr Perdana’s painting was chosen from among the national winners of the 2020 UOB Painting of the Year competitions, which are held in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The Indonesian artist’s depiction of self-imposed solitude to combat the community spread of COVID-19 underscored the theme of ‘Solidarity’ for this year’s POY competition. This is the sixth time an Indonesian artist has won the regional POY award.

Mr Wee Ee Cheong, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, UOB said: “2020 has certainly been difficult for us all, challenging lives and livelihoods, restricting movement, keeping us apart. However, through these trying times, we see the power of art to unite us all. It is brought to life in the entries in this year’s UOB Painting of the Year competition. They remind us of the strength of spirit and oneness of community whatever the odds. I congratulate our award winners this year for their achievements and thank them for portraying their positive messages to everyone as we continue to make our way forward together.” 

Mr Prabu Perdana’s Isolated Garden

On winning the 2020 UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year award, Mr Perdana said, “Isolated Garden is a poetic representation of how the community stands united to fight the pandemic together, even as individuals remain isolated physically. The quiet garden reflected my solitude during this pandemic. The desire for connection and togetherness gives us hope in this time of crisis and I wanted this artwork to reflect peace in this uncertain period.”

“The UOB Painting of the Year competition is a prestigious art competition and I am honoured that my artwork, which began and ended in a time of solidarity in solitude, is recognised for this year’s UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year award.”

Isolated Garden depicts the solitude Mr Perdana experienced during the pandemic with his studio represented as an open garden without walls and only his personal belongings for company. He based his painting on the Stone Garden in the highlands of Bandung in West Java.

The judging panel for the 2020 UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year comprised the Chief Judges from each of the four participating countries: Dr Bridget Tracy Tan, Director, Institute of Southeast Asian Arts and Art Galleries, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore; Mr Agung Hujatnikajennong, Independent Curator, and Lecturer, Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia; Ms Bibi Chew, Industry Advisory Panel in Visual Arts for Cultural Economy Development Agency, Malaysia; Emeritus Professor Parinya Tantisuk, leading Thai artist, and Thailand’s 2018 National Artist in Visual Arts (Painting).

Dr Tan, who is also the Regional Chief Judge, said a highlight this year was the high quality and diversity of submissions. “Solidarity, the theme uniquely assigned to this year’s UOB POY, is not simply about a 3 coming together or standing together, as the common impression offers. In fact, solidarity highlights the interdependence of individuals in society and forges a sense of community in what we do and how we live as individuals. The admirable range of artworks this year demonstrates how art makers continue to engage their practice passionately and how they yearn to speak to their audience. The visual arts create new visual horizons that awaken the spirited bonds we have with one another at home and across Southeast Asia.”

“Art is essential to forging wellbeing, stimulating emotions and that which reminds us we are humanity. The UOB POY has yet again, offered unique insights and nurturing in the growth of our diverse cultural communities, bringing us together to celebrate meaningfulness in life, particular in this challenging time,” Dr Tan said.

Mr Zhang Chunlei and Art Stages Pasar 2020

Singapore artist, Mr Zhang Chunlei, 51, was presented the 2020 UOB POY (Singapore) award for his painting titled Art Stages Pasar 2020. The oil on canvas depicts the hustle and bustle of life in Singapore grinding to a halt during the nation’s circuit breaker period, evoking a sense of loneliness and isolation. By masterfully composing famous characters, popular culture icons and landmarks from Eastern and Western cultures together, the artist hopes to convey how unity can overcome adversity. Mr Zhang graduated from the School of Arts from Suzhou University, China. He came to Singapore 24 years ago and has been in the art profession since. He has participated in many international exhibitions, including the 8th Beijing International Art and Biennale, China 2019, China; Sea of Tears, Malaysia; and The Contemporary Asian Art Fair, Singapore.

Mr Emil Nicodemus Chew and Family Portrait

Mr Emil Nicodemus Chew, 22 won the 2020 Most Promising Artist of the Year Award (Singapore) in the Emerging Artist Category for his oil on canvas painting titled Family Portrait. Family Portrait takes inspiration from the artist’s four siblings and how, while staying at home together as a family can foster close bonds, it can also be challenging with no clear boundaries on personal space. Clothes on a rack represent the family figures and symbolise the dynamics of their relationships. Mr Chew graduated from LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore.

As one of Southeast Asia’s most recognised annual art awards, the UOB POY competition is also the Bank’s flagship art programme and reflects its commitment to uncover the next generation of great Southeast Asian artists. In Singapore, it is the longest-running art competition. Over the years, the UOB POY competition has launched the careers of well-known artists in Singapore and the region including winners of the prestigious Singapore Cultural Medallion winners − Mr Goh Beng Kwan, Mr Anthony Poon and Mr Chua Ek Kay. Given the COVID-19 restrictions, UOB launched an online portal for all participants to submit their entries easily and safely this year. This also provided an avenue for more artists across the region to take part in the competition. 

For more information about the UOB Painting of the Year, visit their virtual gallery, where the winning paintings will also be exhibited here

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