Artwork that journeys through time while exploring the relationship between art and money clinches
2023 UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) award

 established artist category

‘Malaya and British Borneo One Dollar 1953 (We look at the past, we look at the present)’ by
Mr Chong Kim Chiew, Winner of the 2023 UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia), Established Artist Category


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 25 September 2023 – UOB Malaysia presented the top award for the 2023 UOB Painting of the Year (POY) (Malaysia), Established Artist Category, to Mr Chong Kim Chiew for his artwork titled ‘Malaya and British Borneo One Dollar 1953 (We look at the past, we look at the present)’.


Mr Chong’s painting will compete with other winning entries from Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam for the coveted 2023 UOB Southeast Asian POY award, to be announced on 8 November 2023 in Singapore. The country winners will also be eligible to compete for a one-month residency programme at the renowned Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan.


Ms Ng Wei Wei, Chief Executive Officer of UOB Malaysia, said, “The beauty about art is that it transcends language, culture and time and has the ability to spark conversations. We see this in our annual UOB POY competition, now in its 13th year, where our winning artworks explore wide-ranging topics from the country’s history to personal life experiences.


With a record-breaking number of submissions this year, it is gratifying to see that the local art community views UOB POY as an established platform to elevate their profile regionally. We are excited to continue unleashing the power of art and nurturing the country’s next generation of great artistic talents through this flagship competition.”


The winning piece that challenges the commercial value of art

Featuring two identical banknotes from the British Malaya era, the winning artwork ‘Malaya and British Borneo One Dollar 1953 (We look at the past, we look at the present)’ aims to evoke a sense of nostalgia. Travelling back to the past, the currency was in circulation across Brunei, Malaya, North Borneo, Riau archipelago, Sarawak and Singapore from 1953 to 1967, spanning almost 15 years.


The unique art piece comprises two banknotes, the upper one represents the past and its historical context, while the lower banknote shows a different perspective, reflecting the changes in history. Created using acrylic, foil paper, lime plaster and paper with paint on canvas, the mixed media’s juxtaposition symbolises the past and the present, encouraging audiences to gaze into the present through the lens of history.


Describing his artwork, Mr Chong said, “There were two things that I wanted to explore when I created this piece. I am always intrigued with our history and how it has shaped our future today. As an artist, I want to delve deeper into the complex relationship between art and money and questions around the fluctuating value of artists and their artworks over time.


Just like an old bank note that appreciates in value over the years; who determines the value of art, and would an artist’s work appreciate in value long after they are gone? To me, this playfully challenges an artist’s pursuit of commercial value in the world of art. I am thrilled to win the top prize for the 2023 UOB POY (Malaysia), and I am proud to represent Malaysia for the coveted 2023 UOB Southeast Asian POY award”.


Ms Bibi Chew, Chief Judge of the 2023 UOB POY (Malaysia) competition, said, “It is truly inspiring to see a growing number of people uncovering their passion for art through UOB POY. My belief is that art is meant to be shared, and I have been deeply moved by the stories told by each artist through their art pieces.”


Multi-disciplinary artist wins the 2023 UOB Most Promising Artist of the Year (Malaysia) award, Emerging Artist Category


emerging artist category

‘Malek and Mariana’ by Ms Mairul Nisa Binti Malek, 2023 Most Promising Artist of the Year (Malaysia), Emerging Artist Category


In the Emerging Artist Category, Ms Mairul Nisa Binti Malek took home the Most Promising Artist of the Year award for her mixed media artwork titled ‘Malek and Mariana’. A multi-disciplinary artist, Ms Mairul’s artwork provides insight into her early years where she used to follow her father on his travels as an educator. The artist was deeply moved by her father’s unwavering devotion and dedication as he travelled to remote regions in Sarawak to impart knowledge to less-privileged students. Composed using cement, film wire mesh, washed cyanotype and placed in a wooden box frame, the visual series showcases her diaspora experience. The application of washed cyanotype on cement evokes the tastefully imperfect aspects of her past, while the addition of inverted film serves as an introspection of her memories.


Accelerating digital transformation for local artists through the Jom Transform Programme

As the leading patron of the arts in Asia, UOB Malaysia is steadfast in supporting home-grown talents reach new heights in their artistic careers. The Bank recently held the Jom Transform: Arts Digital Accelerator programme to help local artists enhance their digital skills and business acumen.


Held in collaboration with the National Art Gallery, the Arts Digital Accelerator programme aims to help UOB POY artists and National Art Gallery’s Young Art Entrepreneurs build a sustainable career in the art industry.


Ms Ng said, “We constantly look for areas to further support local artists, and we recognise the importance of preparing our local artists to compete in this digital world. As such, we launched the Jom Transform: Arts Digital Accelerator programme to equip artists with the digital tools to showcase their work, engage in art transactions and sharpen their business skillset. The initiative was well received by participants as it enabled them to enhance their competitiveness in a digital world”.


The two-day programme held on 13 and 14 September 2023 included curated talks, panel discussions and sharing sessions with key speakers from the art, creative and start-up industry to help talents grow and elevate their digital presence further.


Notes to the Editor:

  • The winning artworks from the Established and Emerging Artist Category of the 2023 UOB POY (Malaysia) competition will be displayed at Level 3, GMBB Kuala Lumpur. The exhibition is open to the public from 23 September until 6 October 2023, opening hours are from 11.00 am to 8.00 pm from Monday to Sunday.
  • UOB started the Painting of the Year competition in Singapore in 1982 and introduced it in Malaysia in 2011. Today, the annual art competition is the longest-running in Singapore and one of the most prestigious in Southeast Asia. This is the 13th edition of the art competition in Malaysia and it offers the highest cash prize for an art competition in the country.
  • UOB Malaysia proudly sponsored En Saiful Razman, the 2021 winner of both the Malaysian and Southeast Asian UOB Painting of the Year awards, enabling him to exhibit his artwork at the prestigious Venice Biennale, an internationally acclaimed art exhibition in Italy.
  • As part of UOB Malaysia’s initiative to bring art closer to the community, the Bank unveiled a vibrant light rail transit (LRT) wrap featuring an artwork by the Mr Wooi Ki Xiong, Most Promising Artist of the Year in the Emerging Artist Category at the 2022 UOB POY (Malaysia) competition. The LRT wrap is part of UOB Malaysia’s efforts to showcase local artworks to a wider audience to increase art appreciation among Malaysians.


Established Artist Category (Malaysia)




Artwork Title


Mr Chong Kim Chiew


2023 UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) Award

Malaya and British Borneo One Dollar 1953 (We look at the past, we look at the present)


Mr Hasanul Isyraf Bin Idris


Gold Award

How to Disappear Under the Brightest Star


Mr Nik Ashri bin Nik Harun


Silver Award

In the Quiet Whiteness, The Darkened Silence Resonates


Ms Umibaizurah Binti Mahir Ismail


Bronze Award

Uncharted Realm



Emerging Artist Category (Malaysia)




Artwork Title


Ms Mairul Nisa Binti Malek


Most Promising Artist of the Year award

Malek and Mariana


Mr Ahmad Syakir Bin Hashim


Gold Award

For the Love of Sweet and Bitter Truth


Ms Ooi Yong Hui


Silver Award

Scars of Love, Stain of Time II


Mr Izhar Yusrin Bin Zainuddin


Bronze Award

Escape from the Plot