Indonesian artist bags top honours at UOB Painting of the Year award

Anggar Prasetyo with his painting behind him titled Exploitation of Fish that won the UOB painting of the year.
Anggar Prasetyo with his painting behind him titled Exploitation of Fish that won the UOB painting of the year.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Mr Wee Ee Cheong (right), Deputy Chairman and CEO, UOB, presents Mr Benjamin F. Cruz with the 2015 UOB Painting of the Year, Singapore Award.
Mr Wee Ee Cheong (right), Deputy Chairman and CEO, UOB, presents Mr Benjamin F. Cruz with the 2015 UOB Painting of the Year, Singapore Award. PHOTO: UOB
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean presents the 2015 UOB Southeast Asia Painting of the Year Award to Mr Anggar Prasetyo.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean presents the 2015 UOB Southeast Asia Painting of the Year Award to Mr Anggar Prasetyo.PHOTO: UOB
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean (right) presents Mr Ezra Chan Yi with the 2015 UOB Painting of the Year Most Promising Artist of the Year (Singapore) Award.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean (right) presents Mr Ezra Chan Yi with the 2015 UOB Painting of the Year Most Promising Artist of the Year (Singapore) Award.PHOTO: UOB

For the second year running, an artist from Indonesia is the biggest winner at the United Overseas Bank (UOB) Painting of the Year award, Singapore's longest-running and richest painting prize.

Anggar Prasetyo, 42, won both the UOB South-east Asian Painting of the Year Award, worth US$10,000 (S$13,942), 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.

His winning work, Exploitation Of Fish, is a large-scale painting (1.75m by 1.75m) that uses symbols such as fish, hands and feet to evoke the bleakness of oceans ravaged by over-fishing.

The awards ceremony, held tonight at the Capitol Theatre also named Mr Benjamin F. Cruz, 61, as the winner of the UOB Painting of the Year Award (Singapore). A retired graphic designer, his painting (1.52m by 1.60m) titled Building... uses varnish, turpentine and acrylic to depict a landscape of buildings.

In the emerging artist category for Singapore, the Most Promising Artist of the Year Award went to Ezra Chan, 15, a Pathlight School student who has mild autism. His acrylic-and-oil painting (0.91m by 1.22m), Play, is about the world of pop culture and computer games.

The contest, in its 34th edition, was judged by a 12-member panel that included Dr Bridget Tracy Tan, director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Arts and Art Galleries at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

The guest-of-honour at the awards ceremony was Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

In a statement, the judging panel said Prasetyo's painting bagged top honours for its "innovative technique and strong narrative on the erosion of natural resources conveyed through the use of symbols".

He used methods such as moulding, spray painting and acrylic painting to create relief effects on canvas. This was, to the judges, "a new exploration of how painting develops expressiveness," said Dr Tan.

The artist was a finalist at the 1997 Philip Morris Indonesian Art Awards and his work has been shown in China and Japan. Based in Yogyakarta, Prasetyo, who loves the ocean, said he was moved to paint the degeneration of beaches he saw near his home.

Last year's winning work was also won by a Yogyakarta-based artist, Antonius Subiyanto.

Dr Tan said: "Indonesia produces very good artists, their works are very sophisticated and they have different techniques they have access to that help them creatively express themselves."

For Singapore's winner Cruz, who received two commendations in previous UOB Painting of the Year competitions, the win left him in tears.

He said: "This is my third award and finally, a major award. I'm surprised but very happy."