UOB POY 2013 Results

The UOB Painting of the Year is one of the most prestigious visual art prizes in South East Asia.

As usual, the top winning paintings generated much debate and controversy.

For this review, I'll look at some of these artworks and attempt to understand their aesthetic merits.

Pieces I particularly enjoyed

Silver Award (Established Artist Category, Singapore)
Gazing ""
Oil on Canvas
by Tan Rui Rong

Instead of climbing real mountains and appreciating the wonders of Nature, this child is looking forlornly at the Chinese character for mountain. This is an incisive commentary on the mountainous load of homework that children have to face.

Look at the bag he's carrying!

 Silver Award Winner (Emerging Artist Category, Singapore)
Silent Life
Oil on Canvas (Triptych)
by Ong Xin Hong

There are incredible textures, with a skillful depth to them. I like how the disparate pieces - although drawn from different pieces of leaves - form a wriggling insect when conjoined as a triptych.

Absolutely amazing tones, with a mild tint of yellow and violet.

Bronze Award (Emerging Artist Category, Singapore)
Oil on Canvas
by Ang Cheng Hui

It is often the case that a hyper-realistic work lacks a dynamic tension, appearing controlled and not conveying much motion. This painting is a great antithesis, with its wondrous blend of realism and energy.

Pieces I can't really appreciate

2013 UOB Painting of the Year (Winner, Singapore)
Space Odyssey
Acrylic on Canvas
by Stefanie Hauger

This grand prize winner has been described this as "a piece I really don't think much of", without "much composition" and with an "unexciting palette of colours".

I can see it as a nice, pretty piece hanging in someone's office but I'm not sure the extent to which it has stretched the boundaries of art, be it in terms of techniques or themes.

  Gold Award Winner (Emerging Artist, Singapore)
Mixed Media on Canvas
by Lim Wan Ying

Apparently, there is colloquial humour in this very much reduced abstract painting. I'd imagine the artist to be very pleased to receive a large sum of money for what appears to require minimal effort.

Pieces that don't evoke strong emotions

2013 Most Promising Artist of the Year (Singapore)
The Transcendence of Life
Oil on Canvas
by Lim Quan Zhao

 2013 UOB Painting of the Year (Winner, Malaysia)
Old Man
Oil on Canvas
by Gan Tee Sheng

2013 UOB Painting of the Year (Winner, Indonesia)
Indonesian Artist's Studio
Oil on Canvas
Suroso Isur

 Gold Award Winner (Established Artist Category)
Digital Vertigo
Mixed Media on Canvas
Lester Lee Ngai Sing

UOB Painting of the Year (Winner, Thailand)
Hope on the Ruins No. 3
Acrylic Painting
by Aphiphol Techamangkhalanon

Bronze Award (Established Artist, Singapore)
Enshrouded in Myopia
Oil on Linen
Hannah Tan Cheng Hoon


This year's exhibition was held at the 72-13 gallery, a fairly isolated space along the Singapore River. My friend and I took about 30 minutes to find it.

This venue was a departure from the usual ones at the Singapore Art Museum and Esplanade by The Bays. Its rather inconvenient location may account for the conspicuous lack of onlookers.

There are a few nice pieces on display but it might be more worth your while to go for the ongoing Singapore Biennale instead.