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Gatot Indrajati with the UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year award - he won the prize for his work Right or Wrong My Home (seen in the background).

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From left: Gatot Indrajati, 2016 UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year and 2016 UOB Painting of the Year (Indonesia) award-winner; guest of honour Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Singapore; Wee Ee Cheong, deputy chairman and CEO, UOB Group; Carey Ngai, 2016 UOB Painting of the Year (Singapore) award-winner; Jongjit Moolmat, 2016 UOB Painting of the Year (Thailand) award-winner; and Yim Yen Sum, 2016 UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) award-winner.

Carving out a name for himself

Nov 25, 2016 5:50 AM

TO get up-close to one of Indonesian artist Gatot Indrajati's work is to marvel at his patience for detail, as the 36-year-old artist meticulously carves and paints on wooded figurines before he pastes them onto large painted wooden panels. That's how he creates the fantastical city scapes which looks like elaborate paintings when you view them from the front.

He explains how Right or Wrong My Home, the work that won this year's UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year, started with a sketch on paper and a small mock-up.

"I then drew sketches on pieces of wood and carved out the wooden figures so they become focal objects and decorative figures. I paint on a wooden panel, and then paste the wooden figures on it," describes the Indonesian Institute of Art (Jogjakarta) graduate.

Gatot likes depicting the urban Indonesian landscape and its people, and the carved and painted woodwork is a technique he's been practising since he first won the UOB prize in Indonesia in 2011.

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With Right or Wrong My Home, Gatot wanted to address the serious issue of terrorism in a light-hearted manner. "No matter what threats we face, we Indonesians will never be afraid or worried. We have a strong sense of culture and we stick together to defend the place that we call home," he notes.

He'd drawn sharks flying around the urban landscape to symbolise fear, and robots to represent the Indonesian people carrying on with their daily lives in the midst of terrorist attacks.

Wood has been an important element in his work. "Wooden toys have always been my favourite thing since I was young. I used to play with wooden dolls, puppets and superheroes that I carved by myself," he relates. He's successfully incorporated the figurines into 3D paintings today, in his unique way.

As for the prize, he says that it'll spur him to continue to create new artworks. "Being recognised for my creative vision and hard work on such a prestigious platform will fuel me."

The annual UOB Painting of the Year competition is held across four South-east Asian countries. In Singapore, it is the longest-running art contest and is also the bank's flagship art programme.

This year, Yoko Choi Chi Mei won the Singapore 2016 UOB Most Promising Artist of the Year in the Emerging Artist category, while in the Established Artist Category, Carey Ngai won the UOB Painting of the Year (Singapore) Award.

  • The winning paintings from the 2016 Painting of the Year competition will be exhibited at the UOB Art Gallery, UOB Plaza 1 at 80 Raffles Place. The exhibition is on till Feb 28, 2017