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Biz Events: UOB Painting Of The Year Competition Extends to Indonesia, Malaysia

by Jared Heng

Gong Yao Min, winner of the 30th UOB POY Competition (Singapore), in front of his winning work – My Dream Land

Corporate social responsibility has become a buzzword among many companies in recent years, involving activities such as promoting environmental protection, the arts, and sports.

United Overseas Bank (UOB) has been supporting the arts scene for the past 30 years through its Painting Of The Year (POY) Competition and Exhibition.

For its 30th UOB POY Competition, it awarded Gong Yao Min the top prize for his painting ‘My Dream Land’.

Gong, who has won this competition a second time, used a new approach to traditional Chinese ink painting to portray Singapore’s modern, urban cityscape.

“The first time I won the Competition was in 2002 and it encouraged me to carry on in my craft and reaffirmed my passion to continue creating and exploring cityscapes,” Gong said.

Gong graduated from the An Hui Educational University in China in 1990, and pursued art at Singapore’s Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1999. Now teaching the subject in Singapore, his signature style is one of elaborate detailing using Chinese ink.

“Having lived in Singapore for more than 10 years, I now draw my inspiration from cityscapes instead of nature. However, the traditional Chinese ink painting technique does not allow me to capture cityscapes the way I want to, so I use Chinese ink in a contemporary way to express myself,” Gong said, regarding his winning entry.

(Left to right) Gong Yao Min; Ng Swee Keat, winner of the Malaysia UOB POY Competition; Suwannee Sarakana, winner of the Special Mention Award and Thailand UOB POY Competition; and Gatot Indrajati, winner of the Indonesia UOB POY Competition

“Arts and culture play an important role in Singapore’s development into an exciting global city and I am proud of the fact that UOB has helped to see this flourish,” Wee Ee Cheong, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of UOB, said.

Wee, who is also chairman of the UOB Art Committee, added that over the years, he has witnessed growth in the careers of many POY Competition winners, including critically-acclaimed artists such as Goh Beng Kwan and the late Chua Ek Kay.

First held in Singapore in 1982, the POY Competition extended its reach to Thailand last year, where it proved successful and spurred its launch in Indonesia and Malaysia this year as well.

According to UOB, the competition received a total of almost 2,700 entries across the region this year.

Grace Fu, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Information, Communication and the Arts & the Environment and Water Resources, presented the prizes and certificates to the POY winners on Saturday.

“I applaud both individuals and corporations, such as UOB, who have demonstrated generosity and commitment to the arts sector, helping to transform Singapore into an exciting and vibrant city for the arts,” Ms Fu said.

(Left to right) Ng Swee Keat; Suwannee Sarakana; Choo Thiam Siew, Chief Judge of the 30th UOB POY Competition and President of Nanyang Academy Of Fine Arts; Wee Ee Cheong, Deputy Chairman and CEO, UOB, and Chairman of the UOB Art Committee; Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State for Information, Communication and the Arts & the Environment and Water Resources; Gong Yao Min; and Gatot Indrajati

Besides the prizes that UOB gave at the national level in the four countries, a Special Mention Award of S$5,000 was also given to Thailand’s winner Suwannee Sarakana for her heartwarming portrayal of a family sleeping after a hard day’s work in her oil painting titled ‘Hug of Love from My Family’.

The 30th UOB Painting Of The Year Exhibition features the winning entries at Esplanade ‒ Theatres on the Bay, Singapore, from July 17 to July 31.