Indonesian wood artist bags top honour at UOB Painting of the Year awards

Winner of the UOB Painting of the Year, Indonesian artist Gatot Indrajati's Right or Wrong My Home, (metal and acrylic) on wood.
Mr Carey Ngai won the UOB Painting of the Year in the Established Artist category for Industry 2.0 III (Oil on canvas). PHOTO: UOB
Ms Yoko Choi won the UOB Painting of the Year in the Emerging Artist category for City Wandering (permanent ink marker on Chinese ink paper). PHOTO: UOB

SINGAPORE - For the third year running, an artist from Indonesia has become the biggest winner at the United Overseas Bank (UOB) Painting of the Year award. This is the first time the same country has won Singapore's longest-running and richest painting prize three years in a row. The awards are into their 35th year.

Mr Gatot Indrajati, 36, won both the UOB South-east Asian Painting of the Year Award worth US$10,000 (S$13,900) 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, fantastic scene in his trademark cartoonish style depicts people cheerfully strolling through the streets, which he said was what his fellow Indonesians carried on doing in the aftermath of the blasts.

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

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

The awards ceremony, held on Wednesday (Nov 9) 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 for his oil on canvas piece (1.2m x 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, and Malaysia's Ms Yim Yen Sum, 29, who was inspired by the buildings of Malacca to paint the collage The Floating Castle.

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 work (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.

Dr Tan said Mr Indrajati's painting allowed viewers to "discover new things, new paradigms".

"You bond with it on so many different levels," she said.

"It moved us so."

The winning paintings will be exhibited at the UOB Art Gallery at UOB Plaza 1, 80 Raffles Place from Friday (Nov 11) until next February.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.