United Overseas Bank (UOB) has opened a selection of its four decade old art collection to the public for the first time. Eighty paintings by emerging and established Southeast Asian artists were curated for a special exhibition to provide a rich, visual commentary of the region’s economic and cultural transformation over the last six decades. The retrospective exhibition is part of the bank’s 80th year anniversary celebrations.
The exhibition curated by the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), is titled The UOB Art Collection: Drawing from our past, framing the future. It weaves the story of Southeast Asia’s transformation through different mediums such as Chinese ink, batik art, oil and watercolour painting.
The paintings are by renowned Southeast Asian artists such as Chen Wen Hsi, Georgette Chen, Yusman Aman, Soelardjo and Singapore Cultural Medallion winner Lim Yew Kuan.
UOB’s involvement in art started in the 1970s with its collection of paintings by Singapore artists. The bank grew its collection over the years to include works from neighbouring countries as the Bank extended its network across the region. Today, the UOB Art Collection has more than 2,000 pieces of art. This includes the work of winners from the 34-year old UOB Painting of the Year competition which was set up by UOB to help discover and nurture artistic talent across Southeast Asia.
Mr Wee Ee Cheong, Deputy Chairman and CEO, UOB Group, said that supporting art in Southeast Asia is one of the ways in which the Bank demonstrates its deep commitment to the region.
“UOB has always believed in the potential of Southeast Asia. It is our home for the last eight decades and it will play an important part in our future. Through this exhibition, we hope visitors will come away appreciating how much Southeast Asia has progressed socially and economically and be inspired to work together in creating possibilities for our future,” said Mr Wee.
NAFA was commissioned by UOB to curate and to stage the exhibition as it has a strong history in the development of Southeast Asian art.
Dr Bridget Tracy Tan, Director of Institute of Southeast Asian Arts and Art Galleries, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, said NAFA is honoured to be involved in curating and organising the exhibition.
“The UOB Art Collection reflects the impact of cultural, social and economic development on Southeast Asian art forms from the 1960s to recent years. For instance, pieces created in the 1980s by Singapore artists Prabhakara (Jimmy Quek) and Tay Bak Koi as well as Malaysian artists Latiff Mohidin, Khoo Sui Hoe and Tew Nai Tong represent urbanisation and rapid growth in Singapore and Malaysia during that period of time. Their pieces illustrate the transition from old to new, as kampongs and plantations were replaced by roads and public housing in Singapore and rural communities in Malaysia were redeveloped to pave the way for industrialisation,” said Dr Tan.
Beyond regional artists, the UOB Art Collection also holds art pieces from high-profile international artists such as India-based Manjit Bawa and Jogen Chowdhury and Italian sculptor Anna Chiara Spellini.
Admission to The UOB Art Collection: Drawing from our past, framing our future is free and is open to the public from Saturday, 17 October 2015 to Wednesday, 18 November 2015 at NAFA Galleries 1 and 2.