Region's artists honoured at UOB painting awards

Mr Carey Ngai, winner of the UOB Painting of the Year Award (Singapore), with his piece Industry 2.0 III, which he said illustrates how the rise of artificial intelligence is rendering old machinery and older workers obsolete.
Mr Carey Ngai, winner of the UOB Painting of the Year Award (Singapore), with his piece Industry 2.0 III, which he said illustrates how the rise of artificial intelligence is rendering old machinery and older workers obsolete.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

For the third year running, an artist from Indonesia is the winner of the United Overseas Bank (UOB) South-east Asian Painting of the Year Award - making it the first time the same country has won Singapore's longest-running prize three years in a row.

This is the 35th year the bank is giving out the award.

Mr Gatot Indrajati, 36, won both the UOB South-east Asian Painting of the Year Award worth US$10,000 (S$14,000) and the UOB Painting of the Year Award (Indonesia), one of four country awards worth US$25,000 each.

The other country awards are for Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Mr Indrajati's winning work, Right Or Wrong My Home, is a mixed-media work (0.7m by 1.62m) of metal and acrylic on wood.

He said he was inspired by how the Indonesian people rallied together with wry humour after the Jakarta bombings in January.

The vibrant, fantastical scene in his trademark cartoonish style depicts people cheerfully strolling through the streets, which he said was what his fellow citizens carried on doing in the blasts' aftermath.

"I wanted to show that our people are not afraid of terror," he said.

It is his second win. Mr Indrajati also bagged the UOB Painting of the Year (Indonesia) award in 2011.

The awards ceremony, held last night at the Fullerton Bay Hotel, also named Mr Carey Ngai, 48, the winner of the UOB Painting of the Year Award (Singapore).

The associate professor at Xiamen University College of the Arts in China won thanks to his oil on canvas piece (1.2m by 1m) titled Industry 2.0 III, which shows an industrial machine in the shadows.

He said he wanted to illustrate how the rise of artificial intelligence in the working world is rendering obsolete not just old machinery, but older workers too.

The other two country winners were Thailand's Mr Jongjit Moolmat, 36, with his portrait Awaiting Enlightenment 2 (1.75m by 1.55m), and Malaysia's Ms Yim Yen Sum, 29, who was inspired by the buildings of Malacca to paint the collage The Floating Castle (1.33m by 1.01m).

In the emerging artist category for Singapore, the Most Promising Artist of the Year Award went to Ms Yoko Choi, 38, who graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) in May.

Her ink marker diptych (1.71m by 1.55m), City Wandering, explores the tensions between the construction and destruction of cities.

The event's guest of honour was Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.

The contest was judged by a panel that included Dr Bridget Tracy Tan, director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Arts and Art Galleries at Nafa.

Of Mr Indrajati's painting, Dr Tan said: "You bond with it on so many different levels... It moved us so."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Region's artists honoured at UOB painting awards'. Print Edition | Subscribe