Art Week: Awards Winners

The dust from this year’s just ended blockbuster scaled Art Week has settled alongside the announcements of the winners of 3 Singapore-based art awards:

  • Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art

Indonesian contemporary artist FX Harsono clinched this inaugural honour that is given to either an artist or a curator from the Southeast Asian region for the commitment he or she has given to the ideals of freedom of art.

Jointly presented by the United States Embassy of Singapore and Art Stage Singapore, Harsono received a grant of US$5000, a trophy and a winner’s certificate for his continual artistic examination of the social realities embedded within his home country. He impressed with his critical installations and performance works that span pro-democracy dissent to explorations of the experiences of ethnic minorities; especially in relation to the repression and feelings of ‘otherness’ he has encountered over the course of 40 years.

The other 6 nominees for this award were Svay Sareth (Cambodia), Nadiah Bamadhaj (Malaysia), Aye Ko (Myanmar), Lee Wen (Singapore) and Manit Sriwanichpoom (Thailand).


  • 2015 Prudential Eye Awards for Contemporary Asian Art

Japanese art collective, ChimPom, was named the Overall Best Emerging Artist at this event, which was founded by British-Italian art lovers David and Serenella Ciclitira, in partnership with Saatchi Gallery and the insurance firm Prudential. By creating work that bucks tradition and transcends national and continental boundaries, the group of 6 20-somethings walked away with US$50,000 and the chance to exhibit at London’s Saatchi Gallery.

Ryuta Ushiro, Yasutaka Hayashu, Ellie, Masataka Okada, Motomu Inaoka and Toshinori Mizuno came together in 2005 to create witty yet melancholic work with strong messages about Japanese society and have been getting international attention with their performances that respond to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

This collective also clinched this event’s Best Emerging Artist in the Digital/Video category from teamLab (Japan) and Chitra Ganesh (India), in relation to the new and boundary-pushing ways of collaborating and working with this art form across Asia.

Indian artist, Mithu Sen, won the Best Emerging Artist Using Drawing award over Genevieve Chua (Singapore) and Ahmet Dogu Ipek (Turkey) in this category.

Best Emerging Artist for the installation division went to Singaporean Donna Ong’s dream-like theatrical scenarios, rather than to the works by Hannah Bertram (Australia) and Wu Chi-Tsung (Taiwan).

The award in the photography category was bestowed upon emerging artist Sherman Ong, who works from Singapore and Malaysia. She had faced competition from Seung Hee Hong (South Korea) and Khvay Samnang (Cambodia).

Indonesia’s emerging artist Christine Ay Tjoe swept the painting category from under Amir Hossein Zanjani (Iran) and Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo (Indonesia).

The Best Emerging Artist for sculptures went to South Korean Meekyoung Shin, who innovatively worked with soap, over Kohei Nawa (Japan) and Ichwan Noor (Indonesia).

Winners of these Best Emerging Artist categories each walked away with US$20,000 and a specially commissioned trophy.

Artworks by all nominated artists for this 2nd Prudential Eye Awards are exhibited at ArtScience Museum, 6 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018974 till 31 March this year.

At the same time, this event honoured contemporary Chinese artist, Gu Wenda, with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Asian Contemporary Art for his innovative use of materials as he draws upon Chinese cultural traditions.

Singapore’s Future Perfect was also named the Best Gallery Supporting Emerging Asian Contemporary Art and “No Country”, which made its final world-touring stop at the National Technological University’s Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore last year, was named Best Exhibition of Asian Contemporary Art.


  • Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize 2014

Singaporean artist Ho Tzu Nyen walked away with the S$60,000 Grand Prize Award at APB Foundation’s 3rd edition of its Signature Art Prize for the creation of his “Pythagoras”, an installation with a 4-channel video high definition projection that is ingeniously synchronized to a 8-channel sound and automated curtains, lights and fans.

Inspired by Pythogoreanism, an ancient Greek religion with probationary disciples who had to sit in absolute silence while listening to their master’s teachings from behind a screen of curtains so as to ensure their full focus on just his voice, “Pythagoras” demonstrates this concealment of power, sound and voice of the unseen.

The 2 Jurors’ Choice Awards, each valued at S$15,000, went to Indonesia’s Melati Suryodarmo and China’s Liu Jianhua while the S$10,000 People’s Choice Award was given to Taiwan’s Yao Jui-Chung and his Lost Society Document group, which comprises students.

Suryodarmo’s performance piece, “I’m a Ghost in My Own House”, uses her laborious grinding down of hundreds of charcoal briquettes as a metaphor of a person undergoing a psychological metamorphosis in which thoughts and excesses are purged, pulverized and incinerated to such an extent that his or her appearance and very structure are totally transformed.

Liu’s sculptural installation, “Trace”, in contrast, references an aesthetic standard in Chinese calligraphic practice literally translated as ‘water stains on the wall’. By crafting the ‘ink drops’ staining the walls in porcelain, the artist places those viewing the artwork in a contradictory position within the perplexing space between illusion and reality.

Yao and his group of students’ “Mirage – Disused Public Property in Taiwan” is a video and 124 photographs that document their painstaking effort to raise awareness of the existence of a huge number of obsolete buildings across Taiwan built by business groups from municipal or rural political parties’ construction investments given in exchange for their support during elections.

These winning entries were chosen from 15 finalist works that best represented the most outstanding contemporary art by both emerging and established artists over the past 3 years from across the Asia Pacific region.

The other 11 nominees for this triennial event are Nguyen Trinh Thi (Vietnam), Robert Zhao Renhui (Singapore), Owen Leong (Australia), Farida Batool (Pakistan), Peng Wei (China), Choe U-Ram (South Korea), Go Watanabe (Japan), Lisa Reihana (New Zealand), Naeem Mohaiemen (Bangladesh), Arin Rungjang (Thailand), and Ranbir Kaleka (India).

All 15 works are displayed at the Singapore Art Museum, 71 Bras Basah Road, Singapore 189555 till 15 March this year


Feature photo: FX Harsono’s “Writing In The Rain”

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