Malaysian artist Saiful Razman has won the 2021 UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year (POY) award for his artwork titled Walk in Silence, Don’t Walk Away in Silence. Razman’s artwork was chosen from among the country winners of the 2021 UOB POY competitions held in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. His winning piece was selected from among a record high number of entries the competition has received in its 40-year history.
Walk in Silence, Don’t Walk Away in Silence was inspired by the quietness and serenity of self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the center of the minimalistic and monochromatic artwork features a haven in the shape of a house that is pure and peaceful, while the surrounding dimensional landscape patterns symbolize mountains. The creative use of thin-rolled tissue paper and medical gauze on the artwork creates the delicate texture that reflects the current pandemic situation, captivating the panel of judges from the four Southeast Asian countries.
Winning is the Silver Lining of the Pandemic
On winning the 2021 UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year award, Razman said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on many people around the world and has also led to feelings of isolation becoming more prevalent than ever. Through Walk in Silence, Don’t Walk Away in Silence, I wanted to express the absence of sound and the sense of serenity experienced during self-isolation through using mixed media and highly contrasting shades of grey. I am honored to win the Painting of the Year award and to represent Malaysia at one of the most recognized art competitions in this region.”
The judging panel for the competition comprised the Chief Judges from each of the four participating countries: Dr Bridget Tracy Tan, Director, Institute of Southeast Asian Arts and Art Galleries, and Academic Advisor, Southeast Asian Arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore and who is also the Regional Chief Judge; Mr Agung Hujatnikajennong, Lecturer, Faculty of Art and Design, Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia; Ms Bibi Chew, Art Advisor and Leading Malaysian Contemporary Artist, Malaysia; Emeritus Professor Parinya Tantisuk, Leading Thai Artist, Thailand.
For this special anniversary year, the bank has invited Mr Eddie Hara, Leading Indonesian Contemporary Artist, well known for his colorful visualization vocabulary in art, to be the Regional and Singapore Guest Judge.
The 2021 UOB POY Virtual Awards Ceremony was broadcasted today on its YouTube channel. The winning paintings from across the region will be exhibited at the UOB Art Gallery in Singapore from 27 November 2021 to 28 February 2022 as well as virtually on www.UOBandArt.com.
As part of this year’s anniversary program, all country winners will attend a one-month residency program at either the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan or the UOB Art Gallery in Shanghai, China. Through the program, these artists will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the art culture of the host country and to learn about various approaches to art creation.
UOB POY Celebrates 40-year Milestone
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the UOB POY, the Bank’s flagship regional visual arts program. It is the longest-running art competition in Singapore and has helped more than 1,000 artists across the region share their works on a larger stage.
Many have gone on to define Southeast Asian art including Goh Beng Kwan, the late Anthony Poon and Chua Ek Kay, who were also recipients of the Singapore Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s most distinguished art award. Pannaphan Yodmanee, has also gone on to win the distinguished Benesse Prize, the official award of the Singapore Biennale, in 2016.
Wee Ee Cheong, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of UOB, said that the vital role of art in connecting communities has shone through from the very first year of the competition.
“We appreciate the special role artists play in society as they help to challenge, to inspire and to connect us all. Over the last four decades, the Painting of the Year competition has helped to uncover and nurture our region’s artists, making their artworks accessible to a wider audience. This year we have seen a record number of entries from across the region, each entry testament to the imagination and ingenuity of Southeast Asian artists to relate to their audiences. Our artists have once again pushed the boundaries of creativity by capturing the fortitude, compassion and resilience of people as they look beyond immediate concerns and find rays of hope for a better future.”
To commemorate the UOB POY 40-year milestone, the Bank has introduced a new award trophy modeled after Vitalità, a bronze sculpture created by foremost Italian sculptor, Anna Chiara Spellini. Embodying the vital energy in the visceral line of this sculpture, Vitalità has been endowed with the vigor of being ready to move upward and forward. The new iconic UOB POY award trophy aims to illuminate the passion of artists, inspiring their imagination and ingenuity as they express their artistic vision.
Next year, the Bank will also host a special commemorative exhibition to feature past winning artworks since 1982. The exhibition will be open to the public and attendees will experience how Southeast Asian art has changed over the years and at the hands of the competition’s art luminaries. The commemorative exhibition will also hold virtual tours on www.UOBandArt.com.
Other winners were Keane Tan, 22, who was presented the 2021 UOB POY (Singapore) award for his painting titled A Dramatic Cinematic for Our Century for the Established Artist category. The three-time award recipient of the competition illustrated a scene of Singapore’s iconic Merlion Park, with crashing blue waves in a highly-graphic and dramatised style. While Brian Ko, 20, won the 2021 UOB Most Promising Artist of the Year Award (Singapore) in the Emerging Artist Category for his painting titled Uncertainty of Photovoltaic Cells.