The painting takes plagiarism issue as the theme despite its originality. There is no graphic or photography design factor in the artworks. It is the spontaneity that makes Suroso Isur the champion of the year’s UOB painting competition.
The artist is seated wearily on a chair with a piece white cloth covering his eyes. He ignores the figures of lithe ladies standing in front of him. One of whom looks particularly elegant in green kebaya and brown batik drape.
The other lady wears a white blouse whose cut provides an expansive view of her chest. She is also seated, whose skirt reveals her thighs. There is a pile of paintings on their background. The paintings, however, are not those of ordinary group. Amongst the pile, there is a painting of Raden Saleh titled ‘Kuda Arab Diterkam Singa’ (Arabic Horse Pounced by a Lion) and a painting of Affandi’s portrait.
The artist’s entire studio painted beautifully on 150 x 180 cm canvas, Suroso Isur’s painting titled “Indonesian Artist Studio” (2013) managed to grab the Champion title in a prestigious painting competition in Indonesia – UOB Indonesia Painting of the Year 2013 (UOBI POY 2013), setting aside the other 880 artists. He pours artworks of other legendary Indonesian painters – Raden Saleh, Affandi, and Basoeki Abdullah – into his artwork.
“The painting depicts a competing notion of a painter and the subjects in his painting, between expressing his originality to plagiarism issue. Freedom of expression to following the market’s trend,” said one of the three members of the jury team, Amir Sidharta. The other two judges are Agus Dermawan T and Dra. Watie Moerany from Ministry of Tourism and Creative Industry.
For Amir, Isur artwork also signs the return of fine arts based on the approach of events or landscapes through medium of paint in brushes of palette knives, putting spontaneity to show emotion and feelings of the artist above else. Particularly, above the focus of rational or exact precision involving photography, graphic design, or else.
As a champion, Isur becomes the rightful owners of the main cash prize, Rp. 250 million. He is also given a chance to participate in a regional competition, Southeast Asian Painting of the Year, going against the Malaysian, Thai, and Singaporean artists.
The artworks of the regional champions will be re-exhibited in 73-12 Gallery, Singapore, in November 26th – December 7th 2013. Isur also owns an opportunity to participate in a residency program in Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan.
This year, UOBI POY 2013 also presents awards to four professional artists and newcomers with categories Gold; Silver; and Bronze Award. The professional artist granted the Gold Award is Agung ‘Tato’ Suryanto with an artwork titled “Levitasi (Levitation) II” (2013); followed by Vani Hidayatur Rahman with “Unity #5”; and Cucu Ruchyat with “Revenge of Nature” (2013).
As for the newcomers category, the award “Most Promising Artist of the Year” is given to Achmad Toriq with “Balada Lutung Kasarung (Life of Lutung Kasarung)” (2013). The ‘Gold Award’ is given to Camelia Mitasari Hasibuan with “Sisa-sisa Merdeka (Independence Excess)” (2013), followed by Merry Afganial’s “Quibble” (2013) and Fikri Effendi’s “Kesendirian yang Indah (Mesmerizing Solitude)” (2013).
“The amazing thing is that these young and upcoming artists show a unique character of their own. They differ not much in terms of technique from the artworks of professional artists. It is quite refreshing,” said Amir.
In general, the chosen theme of the participating artists in this year’s competition has started to leave the social critics issue presented in similar competitions in 2011 and 2012. Agus Dermawan states that this year’s issues are ranging from environmental issue, inter-nation conflicts, and domination of technology in human life.
“The changes shown that political issue has shifted to be less interesting. While the worldly issues absorbed by the artists through printed media or TV, are much more captivating,” he said.
The rising figures of the main prize in this painting competition are obviously tempting to Indonesian artists. The sheer number of submitted artworks in this year’s competition alone, 1.700 artworks, has profoundly stated this fact. There are 862 artworks of professional painters and 762 artworks of newcomer artists. Extensively, the number doubled from the total artworks received in the previous year.
The dramatic change of the cash prizes also happens in three other Southeast Asia countries – Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand – who held the similar competitions. According to President Director of PT Bank UOB Indonesia, Armand B. Arief, the change is also a form of UOB appreciations’ for the hard works of the artists, painters in particular.
“We realize that to create a high-quality artwork, a painter needs to spend a hefty sum. There are many artists who live in poverty since they haven’t managed to penetrate Indonesian fine arts market yet,” he said.
“We expect to see more artists participating in this competition, since the high prize may help their economical life. They may even build a whole new studio if they win,” Armand said in the midst of his laughter.
Interested? Just visit UOB Plaza in Jl. MH Thamrin No. 10, Central Jakarta. There are 68 artworks in total, exhibited from November 20th to December 19th 2013.