Art has the ability to build relationships and unite people, transcending language, culture, geographies and time. It informs with the present and it creates a future for the imagination. Driven by a passion to encourage talented artists in their creative pursuits, the UOB Painting of the Year competition is the United Overseas Bank’s flagship regional visual arts programme, aimed at discovering and nurturing artists across the region.
One of Southeast Asia’s most prestigious annual art awards, the competition was inaugurated in 1982 in Singapore and introduced to Malaysia in 2011. Held in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, it aims to uncover the next generation of great Southeast Asian artists, and contribute to greater awareness and appreciation of art.
Open to all citizens and permanent residents, the competition is divided into two categories: Established Artist and Emerging Artist, with no age restrictions. Paintings can be in acrylic, batik, Chinese brush, collage, crayon, ink, mixed media, oil, watercolour or other media. The artworks were judged based on the criteria of message, creativity, composition and technique, by a panel of local and overseas artists, art connoisseurs, art critics, curators and other professionals appointed by UOB.
The winners of the UOB Painting of the Year 2022 were revealed recently, and the highest award – Painting of the Year – went to Seah Ze Lin, an established and recognised fine artist who also teaches the Fine Arts programme at The One Academy. He takes home the coveted grand prize of RM100,000.
Seah’s artwork is titled “地皮 – Skin of Land”, a term often used in the Chinese language to describe a commercially valuable site. He extended the meaning to refer to the exhausted natural resources in a form of an animal hunted and killed for its skin. Many things that are not visible to the naked eye mark the map, such as contour lines, varying symbols and colours. These artificial symbols shape the framework of human society. The topography is rewritten as societal changes and development over the years.
“I admire the way topography is recorded, but I also lament the way our lands have changed due to human development,” said Seah.
“I cut and reorganize maps, burn and wash them, like dismembering my prey with a higher perspective. The final product is a ‘skin’ that has been tamed by me. All the identifiable words on the map were burnt, and the distinction between human dwellings and nature is indistinguishable,” Seah described.
“I ended up isolating the ‘animal skin’ like an island with a mix of animal hair and synthetic fibre as the boundaries. After all, my work is dedicated to those animals that were forced to stray and wander in between,” he concluded.
Next, his artwork will be competing with the top winners from the other countries for the 41st UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year award, which carries a cash prize of US$10,000 and will be announced in November. One of the four UOB Painting of the Year Award country winners will be selected for a residency programme at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan. This provides the artist with the opportunity to learn about the art culture in their respective host countries and various approaches to art creation.
The One Academy is committed to providing the best art education programmes and continues to nurture its students passionately through its “Masters Train Masters” coaching philosophy, which has been practised for over 30 years, by providing diploma and degree courses in Advertising & Graphic Design, Digital Animation, Digital Media Design, Film Visual Effects, Interior Architecture & Design, Illustration, Fine Arts, Paris Fashion Design & Pattern Making, Computer Science, Game Design and Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation. For more information on The One Academy, visit www.toa.edu.my or call +603-7875 5510 or e-mail your enquiries to [email protected].
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