SINGAPORE - Thai artist Sukit Choosri's striking portrait of a young woman was named the UOB South-east Asian Painting of the Year on Wednesday (Nov 8).
The quiet but visually compelling One Life, in tempera and acrylic paint, resonated with the judges for its portrayal of the uncertainty that young Thais have towards their future amid an increasingly competitive economic landscape, said the United Overseas Bank (UOB) in a statement.
Mr Choosri, 40, is the first Thai artist to win the award since it was first given in 2013.
He received it at a ceremony held at the Victoria Concert Hall and Theatre, at which Mr Ong Ye Kung, Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence, was the guest-of-honour.
Before the regional award was introduced in 2013, participants in the UOB Painting of the Year competition would only compete in their respective South-east Asian countries, namely Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore.
The UOB competition is now in its 36th year. In Singapore, it is the longest-running art contest and is also the bank's flagship art programme.
The winning paintings will be exhibited at the UOB Art Gallery at 80 Raffles Place from Nov 16 to the end of February next year.
The four judges, one from each country, also commended Mr Choosri's attention to detail in the painting, in which "the fleeting nature of life is portrayed in the different stages of a decaying Bodhi tree".
Mr Choosri said his work sought to encourage people to reflect upon themselves and see beyond the immediate form of their lives.
"Change, both positive and negative, is inevitable. We need to remain open-minded and to embrace all forms of change in our lives to learn and to achieve wisdom," he said.
UOB chief executive Wee Ee Cheong said the Painting of the Year competition is part of the bank's efforts to give back to the community.
"We believe that through the medium of art we can help draw people across the region closer together as one community.
"We would then be bound not just by our geographical and economic ties, but by a deeper understanding and appreciation of our common roots and linkages," he said.
Mr Choosri also won the UOB Thailand Painting of the Year award last month.
This year's winners include Ms Sunny Chyun, for the Singapore UOB Painting of the Year, and Ms Yang Kaiwen, the country's Most Promising Artist of the Year.
In the past, the competition launched the careers of well-known artists in Singapore and the region including Young Artist Award winners Raymond Lau, Chua Say Hua and Hong Sek Chern.
Correction note: An earlier version of the story named Raymond Lau, Chua Say Hua and Hong Sek Chern as Singapore Cultural Medallion winners. This is incorrect. They were Young Artist Award winners.