Indonesian artist Antonius Subiyanto has won the 2014 United Overseas Bank (UOB) Painting of the Year award, for his commentary on consumerism, “Old Stock Fresh Men.”
In his large contrasting canvas, the human soul and its all-consuming appetite is represented by a large wok in which all kinds of goods are being cooked over a wood fire. As the items combine and smoke emerges from the wok, the eyes of a monster emerge. The painting also won the UOB Painting of the Year Award (Indonesia), one of four country awards worth $25,000 each. The artist bags an additional $10,000 for being the overall winner of the competition.
In a statement, the panel said Subiyanto's work was chosen for the top prize because of the artist’s "ability to convey a somber message in a subtle yet playful way."
Subiyanto explained his inspiration was based on life experiences. "My artwork is about a culture of tolerance and empathy. It is inspired by the day-to-day life in Yogyakarta, where I find that there is excessive consumption. I used charcoal and pencil to draw the foundation before layering it with oil paint and finally, gold acrylic for the outlines. I used gold because it reflects an attitude of excessive consumption. This is the complete opposite from my life in the village,” he explained.
The other country-specific awards were for Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore (countries where UOB has significant operations) and these were awarded respectively to Minstrel Kuik Ching Chieh, Sinlapachai Chuchan, and Om Mee Ai.
The competition has two distinct segments — Emerging Artists and Established Artists — and comes with a total prize pool of US$200,000, making it one of the largest purses among art competitions in the region. While the Emerging Artist segment is open to all, the Established Artist competition is restricted to professional artists, with a proven track-record.
Last year, the UOB Painting of the year was given for a swirly abstract work to Singapore-based German artist Stefanie Hauger.
All winning paintings will be exhibited at the atrium of UOB Plaza 1 at 80 Raffles Place, from 28 November 2014.