Artist’s Reflection On Staying True To Oneself While Being Socially Responsible Wins The 2020 UOB Painting Of The Year (Malaysia) Award

Kuala Lumpur, November 20 – UOB Malaysia today presented the 2020 UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) award to 49-year-old Mr Sabri Idrus for his artwork titled, ‘Silent Fortress’.

Through his acrylic on canvas piece, Mr Sabri’s interpretation of the competition’s ‘Solidarity’ theme hopes to bridge the gap between the real world and the ideal world he envisions. Whether confronted with the negative impact of a pandemic, an economic downturn, political differences or global warming, the artist conveys a message of standing together in solidarity in the pursuit of peace.

Sabri Idrus – 2020 Painting of the Year Winner – Silent Fortress

Explaining his artwork and commenting on his win, Mr Sabri said, “‘Silent Fortress’ represents a quiet space for each of us to reflect on being true to ourselves and to work towards being responsible to each other, thus strengthening our mutual bond as Malaysians. I am honoured to win the 2020 UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) award and I am delighted that my artwork will represent Malaysia for the overall UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year award.” 

As the 2020 UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) winner, Mr Sabri receives a cash prize of RM100,000.

His painting will compete with other winning entries from Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand for the 2020 UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year award which will be announced at a virtual award ceremony on 3 December 2020. Mr Sabri is also eligible to compete for a one-month residency programme at the renowned Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan.

Ms Bibi Chew, Chief Judge of the 2020 UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) competition, said, “The measures imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the community have impacted the Malaysian art scene with many large-scale exhibitions being postponed or cancelled. I commend UOB Malaysia for continuing its annual art competition despite these challenges. It has enabled local artists to share their voice and to stand in solidarity during these trying times. We are proud to have named Mr Sabri the 2020 UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) winner and we look forward to seeing him compete with other country winners for the 2020 UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year award.”

Mr Sabri joins the ranks of past UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) winners, including Ms Cheng Yen Pheng, Ms Cheong Kiet Cheng, Mr Chok Yue Zan, Ms Yim Yen Sum, Ms Minstrel Kuik and Mr Gan Tee Sheng, who have gone on to receive national and international acclaim for their artworks.

In the Emerging Artist category, 25-year-old Mr Khabir Ali Bin Roslan won the Most Promising Artist of the Year award for his artwork titled Solidariti Tanah Air (Homeland Solidarity). Inspired by the concept of physics and Nusantara (Malay Archipelago) cosmology, Mr Khabir Ali metaphorically portrays solidarity through his art-making process and technique using soil and bandage materials.

Khabir Ali Bin Roslan – Most Promising Artist of the Year Award – Solidariti Tanah Air

Representing water in the form of a hexagon with reference to its molecular structure, Mr Khabir Ali also interprets the concept of Zikr (Remembrance of God) as geometrical patterns. He emphasises the correlation between water and soil as the key elements that form the metaphorical and conceptual act of binding together. From this, the artist finds solidarity in the bonds of a nation, a strong social fabric that knits people together.   

In its 10th year, the UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) competition accepted entries digitally for the first time this year in light of the restrictions that have been put in place to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Wong Kim Choong, Chief Executive Officer, UOB Malaysia, said that the UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) reflects the Bank’s commitment to promoting art in the country, rooted in the belief that art unites, inspires and heals.    

“As we celebrate 10 years of recognising Malaysian artists, the UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) competition continues to grow from strength to strength. This year’s theme, ‘Solidarity’, is an effort to highlight the importance of unity through adversity. Through the eyes of the artists and their work, we hope to bring people together, particularly during this trying period, for the common good.

“Despite these difficult times, we are pleased to have received yet another year of record entries from both established and emerging artists from across the country. These record numbers are testament to the competition’s continued stature and reputation as one of the most recognised art competitions in the region. Through our annual UOB Painting of the Year competition, we will continue to bring Malaysian art and artists to the world stage,” Mr Wong said.

The public may view the winning paintings from the Established and Emerging Artist categories of the 2020 UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) at the virtual UOB Art Gallery.  

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