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UOB Painting of the Year 2022: Bronze Award

UOB Painting of the Year, David Chan, The Grand History, Art Herald Magazine, Singapore Art Magazine, Singapore Art Publication
Singaporean artist David Chan

“Colours are alluring” was a simple notion expressed by David Chan, but within that simplicity packed deeper undertones in the lecturer cum artist’s creative practice. As a former science and commerce student, the career of an artist was an out-of-bounds concept for David’s family. So naturally, having settled upon his pursuit of art after attaining a scholarship, David was met with strong opposition from home. Be it stubborn conviction or righteous indignation, his desire to remain in the field allowed him don multiple hats as a full-time artist, an arts lecturer at the National Institute of Education and the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and an artist mentor with Singapore’s National Arts Council.

Casting a cursory glance in the direction of David’s works will have the viewers drawn in by their vibrancy and bold chromatics. At closer inspection, his pieces quickly reveal a dramatic spread of characters interacting with dynamism and complexity reminiscent of the baroque style. Yet, in contrast to the bold shock factors exalted by the former art movement, David has managed to cultivate a soothing sense of calm across his compositions owing to his use of cool purplish tones. As conveyed by the artist, purples and greens were employed as the dominant base colours since they are comfortable and are conveniently positioned, with distinction in values, in close proximity to each other on the colour scale. He further explained that black was not preferred since it tends to grey out certain hues and could potentially dull the painting. With the base tones laid out, it was only a matter of shifting through adjacent colours in his colour palette to fit the mood in which he wishes to convey through his art.

UOB Painting of the Year, David Chan, The Grand History, Art Herald Magazine, Singapore Art Magazine, Singapore Art Publication
The Grand History | David Chan | 280cm × 160cm | Oil on linen|

Whereupon the colours lay are mostly a chaos of animals, sometimes interspersed with humans or even skeletons. As symbols, these characters are adopted to elicit suggestions that us as humans do indeed share certain traits as them, and that these behavioural similarities may offer greater insights as to how we operate as a society. In a way, the collection of David’s works doubles up as a visual compendium of Aesop's Fables and serves as a mirror for the viewers to sneak a peek into their own characteristics – both beneficial and detrimental all the same. Afterall, “a bad reaction is better than indifference,” quipped David.

In fact, whenever David paints, he does not view each of his pieces in its singularity. Rather, the consideration is mapped out together in its entirety as a show, so much that each work, upon completion, will inform him of his subsequent ones. Ultimately, the pieces put together in an exhibition should resonate with one another before the artist considers his show successful.

David Chan came in as the Bronze Award winner in the 2022 edition of the UOB Painting of the Year. This being a win for the artist has reassured him that he is still creating and still working on more to come, yet the works bear a relevance in this arena and the art sector as a whole. David also viewed this opportunity as a kind of litmus test to understand how his piece would square off against the others. “I think it’s good for the morale, I think it’s good to be out I the public, and I think I’m going to expand my works further out into the world.”

Indeed, we do look forward to David fulfilling his final sentiment as the world deserves the colours and palettes of David Chan to brighten it up a tad bit more.


Registration for the 42nd UOB Painting of the Year competition is now open. Visit and submit your entries through the website:

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