Sabri Idrus wins this year’s UOB Painting Of The Year in Malaysia


Sabri Idrus with his 'Silent Fortress' (acrylic on canvas, 2020) that won the 2020 UOB Painting Of The Year (Malaysia) award. Photo: UOB

The 2020 UOB Painting Of The Year (Malaysia) award was presented to Sabri Idrus for his artwork titled Silent Fortress today (Nov 20).

For the first time in its 10 years in Malaysia, the competition accepted entries digitally, in light of the restrictions that have been put in place due to the pandemic.

This year’s theme "solidarity" is an effort to highlight the importance of unity through adversity.

The Kedah-born KL-based Sabri’s winning entry Silent Fortress is a contemplative piece born out of the artist’s reflection of standing together in solidarity in the pursuit of peace, despite the many challenges that come our way.

In this acrylic on canvas piece, he ponders on bridging the gap between the real world and the ideal world he envisions.

Sabri Idrus's 'Silent Fortress' (acrylic on canvas, 2020). Photo: UOBSabri Idrus's 'Silent Fortress' (acrylic on canvas, 2020). Photo: UOB

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, ” says Sabri, 49, who began his career as an artist in the mid-1990s.

He is an artist who is best known for his experimental style, often using various media.

The win comes with a cash prize of RM100,000 and a chance to be in the running for a one-month residency programme at the renowned Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan.

Silent Fortress will also go up against other winning entries from Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand for the 2020 UOB South-East Asian Painting of the Year award.

The winning entries will be announced on Dec 3. In the Emerging Artist category, Khabir Ali Roslan, 25, won the Most Promising Artist Of The Year award for his artwork titled Solidariti Tanah Air (Homeland Solidarity). Inspired by geometrical patterns and Nusantara (Malay Archipelago) cosmology, he metaphorically portrays solidarity through his art-making process and technique using soil and bandage materials.

Previous winners of the UOB Painting Of The Year (Malaysia) award include Cheng Yen Pheng, Cheong Kiet Cheng, Yim Yen Sum, Chok Yue Zan, Minstrel Kuik and Gan Tee Sheng.

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