Thai artist Ms Pratchaya Charernsook’s artwork “Chumphon Estuary“, which poignantly depicts the environmental devastation wrought by microplastics, won the 2023 UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year (SEA POY) award. Ms Pratchaya’s masterpiece rose above the outstanding winning pieces from the 2023 UOB POY competitions held in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and for the first time, Vietnam.
Crafted over the span of two months, “Chumphon Estuary” conveys a harrowing warning about the grim consequences of unchecked microplastics use and irresponsible disposal. The message is further driven home by the actual microplastics fragments used to create the artwork, which were collected by Ms Pratchaya from the beaches of her hometown. “Environmental pollution is an issue that hits very close to home, not just for me, but for everyone. I sincerely hope that my artwork will inspire audiences to take action, to ensure that what I have depicted stays in the realm of art instead of becoming reality.”
The 2023 Southeast Asian and Singapore winners were announced this evening at the 42nd UOB POY Awards Ceremony, held at the Victoria Theatre and livestreamed on UOB YouTube. Graced by Minister for Education Mr Chan Chun Sing, the winning artists from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam attended the ceremony alongside past winners, distinguished guests and the arts community.
Mr Wee Ee Cheong, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, UOB, said, “My heartiest congratulations to Ms Pratchaya for spotlighting this important environmental issue through her artwork. It is a stark reminder of everyone’s responsibility to the environment.
“Art is a powerful source of inspiration and connection. The expansion of our flagship UOB POY competition to Vietnam reinforces our long-term commitment to supporting visual art in Southeast Asia. At UOB, we are steadfast in doing right by our community through our various corporate social responsibility programmes. In the area of art, we aim to uncover and nurture talents across the region, and to build a thriving ecosystem to enable regional artists to scale greater heights.”
The judging panel for the 2023 UOB Southeast Asian POY comprised the Chief Judges from each of the five participating countries: Dr Bridget Tracy Tan (Regional and Singapore Chief Judge), Ms Melati Suryodarmo (Indonesia Chief Judge), Ms Bibi Chew (Malaysia Chief Judge), Mr Amrit Chusuwan (Thailand Chief Judge) and Mr Luong Xuan Doan (Vietnam Chief Judge).
A powerful fantasy-inspired artwork wins top award for 2023 UOB POY (Singapore), Established Artist Category
The 2023 winning entries from Singapore showcase local artists’ creative prowess and tenacity as they coloured captivating narratives and social commentary on canvas.
Singaporean artist Jeremy Hiah was awarded the Top Winner in the Established Artist Category (Singapore) for his mixed media piece “Gulliver’s Travels“. This is Mr Hiah’s first UOB POY award.
Inspired by the adventure story of “Gulliver’s Travels“, one’s attention is immediately drawn to the colourful figures of little viruses, animals and machineries plaguing a human body. Drawn in pen ink, the human silhouette remains barely visible, made prominent only by the ropes tying him down. Mr Hiah shared, “‘Gulliver’s Travels‘ is a familiar story to most. I wanted to use this iconic scene to portray a haunting yet fairytale-like scene of a lockdown, akin to the restraints and helplessness felt by humankind during the pandemic.”
Mr Hiah, together with five other artists in the Established Artist Category and nine aspiring artists in the Emerging Artist Category, was recognised at the 42nd UOB POY (Singapore) competition. He will also compete with the four other UOB POY country winners for a coveted one-month residency at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan.
Artwork depicting cross-border interwoven stories wins Most Promising Artist of the Year (Singapore) award
Ms Stephy Chien bagged the Most Promising Artist of the Year (Singapore) award. Her artwork, “Commuting“, presents a vibrant tapestry of numerous parked motorcycles, marking the symbiotic relationship between Singaporean and Malaysian commuters and their connected journeys across the Straits. Ms Chien shared, “Motorcycles are icons of freedom, individuality and cultural fusion. They have woven themselves into the fabric of our daily life and become an intrinsic part of both Singapore and Malaysia’s cultural identities. This artwork also prompts us to balance between preserving the rich cultural heritage of these communities and exploring more sustainable transport solutions.”
UOB’s continued contribution to the wider community
In our efforts to champion Southeast Asian art, UOB continues to give back to the community through a diverse range of visual art programmes, partnerships and community outreach. These include our Artist’s Conversations programme, where UOB POY alumni share their artistic journeys and techniques with secondary school and junior college students. This programme has reached over 2,000 students since it started in 2017, inspiring more aspiring artists to enter the UOB POY competition. Over 40 per cent of Emerging Artist Category entries came from students this year, compared to about 20 per cent in 2022.
UOB POY’s expansion into Vietnam this year, coupled with the Bank’s ongoing partnerships and programmes to make art more accessible across the region, fosters a deeper connection across the communities and markets UOB operates in. This aligns with UOB’s Purpose to build the future of ASEAN.
The 42nd UOB POY Regional Winners’ Showcase will be held at National Gallery Singapore from 23 November 2023 to 30 January 2024, open from 10am to 7pm daily, and on UOBandArt.com.