Thai artist’s striking depiction of man’s ecological footprint using microplastics wins 2023 UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year award

  • by

2023 competition drew record number of entries across the region. Artworks portraying global social commentaries win top awards in 42nd UOB POY (Singapore) competition.

SINGAPORE, Nov. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Thai artist Ms Pratchaya Charernsook’s artwork “Chumphon Estuary”, which poignantly depicts the environmental devastation wrought by microplastics, won the 2023 UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year (SEA POY) award. Ms Pratchaya’s masterpiece rose above the outstanding winning pieces from the 2023 UOB POY competitions held in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and for the first time, Vietnam.

2023 UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year, Chumphon Estuary by Pratchaya Charemsook

Crafted over the span of two months, “Chumphon Estuary” conveys a harrowing warning about the grim consequences of unchecked microplastics use and irresponsible disposal. The message is further driven home by the actual microplastics fragments used to create the artwork, which were collected by Ms Pratchaya from the beaches of her hometown. “Environmental pollution is an issue that hits very close to home, not just for me, but for everyone. I sincerely hope that my artwork will inspire audiences to take action, to ensure that what I have depicted stays in the realm of art instead of becoming reality.”

The 2023 Southeast Asian and Singapore winners were announced this evening at the 42nd UOB POY Awards Ceremony, held at the Victoria Theatre and livestreamed on UOB YouTube. Graced by Minister for Education Mr Chan Chun Sing, the winning artists from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam attended the ceremony alongside past winners, distinguished guests and the arts community.

Mr Wee Ee Cheong, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, UOB, said, “My heartiest congratulations to Ms Pratchaya for spotlighting this important environmental issue through her artwork. It is a stark reminder of everyone’s responsibility to the environment.

“Art is a powerful source of inspiration and connection. The expansion of our flagship UOB POY competition to Vietnam reinforces our long-term commitment to supporting visual art in Southeast Asia. At UOB, we are steadfast in doing right by our community through our various corporate social responsibility programmes. In the area of art, we aim to uncover and nurture talents across the region, and to build a thriving ecosystem to enable regional artists to scale greater heights.”

The judging panel for the 2023 UOB Southeast Asian POY comprised the Chief Judges from each of the five participating countries: Dr Bridget Tracy Tan (Regional and Singapore Chief Judge), Ms Melati Suryodarmo (Indonesia Chief Judge), Ms Bibi Chew (Malaysia Chief Judge), Mr Amrit Chusuwan (Thailand Chief Judge) and Mr Luong Xuan Doan (Vietnam Chief Judge).

A powerful fantasy-inspired artwork wins top award for 2023 UOB POY (Singapore), Established Artist Category

The 2023 winning entries from Singapore showcase local artists’ creative prowess and tenacity as they coloured captivating narratives and social commentary on canvas.

2023 UOB Painting of the Year (Singapore), Established Artist Category – Top winner Gulliver’s Travels by Jeremy Hiah

Singaporean artist Jeremy Hiah was awarded the Top Winner in the Established Artist Category (Singapore) for his mixed media piece Gulliver’s Travels. This is Mr Hiah’s first UOB POY award.

Inspired by the adventure story of Gulliver’s Travels, one’s attention is immediately drawn to the colourful figures of little viruses, animals and machineries plaguing a human body. Drawn in pen ink, the human silhouette remains barely visible, made prominent only by the ropes tying him down. Mr Hiah shared, “Gulliver’s Travels is a familiar story to most. I wanted to use this iconic scene to portray a haunting yet fairytale-like scene of a lockdown, akin to the restraints and helplessness felt by humankind during the pandemic.”

Mr Hiah, together with five other artists in the Established Artist Category and nine aspiring artists in the Emerging Artist Category, was recognised at the 42nd UOB POY (Singapore) competition. He will also compete with the four other UOB POY country winners for a coveted one-month residency at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan.

Artwork depicting cross-border interwoven stories wins Most Promising Artist of the Year (Singapore) award

2023 UOB Painting of the Year (Singapore), Emerging Artist Category – Top winner Most Promising Artist of the Year, Commuting by Stephy Chien

Ms Stephy Chien bagged the Most Promising Artist of the Year (Singapore) award. Her artwork, Commuting, presents a vibrant tapestry of numerous parked motorcycles, marking the symbiotic relationship between Singaporean and Malaysian commuters and their connected journeys across the Straits. Ms Chien shared, “Motorcycles are icons of freedom, individuality and cultural fusion. They have woven themselves into the fabric of our daily life and become an intrinsic part of both Singapore and Malaysia’s cultural identities. This artwork also prompts us to balance between preserving the rich cultural heritage of these communities and exploring more sustainable transport solutions.”

UOB’s continued contribution to the wider community

In our efforts to champion Southeast Asian art, UOB continues to give back to the community through a diverse range of visual art programmes, partnerships and community outreach. These include our Artist’s Conversations programme, where UOB POY alumni share their artistic journeys and techniques with secondary school and junior college students. This programme has reached over 2,000 students since it started in 2017, inspiring more aspiring artists to enter the UOB POY competition. Over 40 per cent of Emerging Artist Category entries came from students this year, compared to about 20 per cent in 2022.

UOB POY’s expansion into Vietnam this year, coupled with the Bank’s ongoing partnerships and programmes to make art more accessible across the region, fosters a deeper connection across the communities and markets UOB operates in. This aligns with UOB’s Purpose to build the future of ASEAN.

The 42nd UOB POY Regional Winners’ Showcase will be held at National Gallery Singapore from 23 November 2023 to 30 January 2024, open from 10am to 7pm daily, and on           

For the full media release and appendices, please refer to

About UOB and Art

UOB’s involvement in art started in the 1970s with its collection of paintings by Singapore artists. Today, the UOB Art Collection has more than 2,600 artworks, made up primarily of paintings from established and emerging Southeast Asian artists.

UOB plays an active role in communities across the region, most notably through its long-term commitment to art. As the leading patron of the arts in Asia, the Bank continues to make art accessible to a wider audience through a diverse range of visual art programmes, partnerships and community outreach across the region.

The Bank’s flagship art programme is the UOB Painting of the Year competition, which was started in 1982 to recognise Southeast Asian artists and to offer them the opportunity to showcase their works to the wider community. The competition was extended to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and in 2023, to Vietnam. It is now the longest running art competition in Singapore and one of the most prestigious in Southeast Asia.

Together with the UOB POY winning artists, UOB also runs art workshops for underprivileged and special needs children regularly. At these workshops, the young learn art techniques from art professionals and award-winning artists.

In recognition of the Bank’s long-term commitment to art, UOB was presented with the National Arts Council’s Distinguished Patron of the Arts Award for the 20th consecutive year in 2023 and the Honorary Patron of the Arts Award, a life -time recognition.

About UOB

UOB is a leading bank in Asia. Operating through its head office in Singapore and banking subsidiaries in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, UOB has a global network of around 500 offices in 19 countries and territories in Asia Pacific, Europe and North America. Since its incorporation in 1935, UOB has grown organically and through a series of strategic acquisitions. Today, UOB is rated among the world’s top banks: Aa1 by Moody’s Investors Service and AA- by both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings.

For nearly nine decades, UOB has adopted a customer-centric approach to create long-term value by staying relevant through its enterprising spirit and doing right by its customers. UOB is focused on building the future of ASEAN – for the people and businesses within, and connecting with, ASEAN.

The Bank connects businesses to opportunities in the region with its unparalleled regional footprint and leverages data and insights to innovate and create personalised banking experiences and solutions catering to each customer’s unique needs and evolving preferences. UOB is also committed to help businesses forge a sustainable future, by fostering social inclusiveness, creating positive environmental impact and pursuing economic progress. UOB believes in being a responsible financial services provider and is steadfast in its support of art, social development of children and education, doing right by its communities and stakeholders.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.