May 20 2019

Ahmed Javed Wins 2019 Sovereign Asian Art Prize

by Pamela Wong

AHMED JAVED was awarded the 2019 Sovereign Asian Art Prize for his painting Imran Qureshi Studio, gouache and gold leaf on Wasli, 110 × 150 × 5 cm. Courtesy the artist and Sovereign Art Foundation.

On May 17, at a gala dinner hosted by the Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF) in Hong Kong, Pakistani artist Ahmed Javed was named winner of the 15th Sovereign Asian Art Prize. Javed received a trophy and a USD 30,000 cash prize for Imran Qureshi Studio, a painting of his eponymous mentor at work, rendered in gouache and gold leaf on Wasli paper. 

The winner was selected from a shortlist of 30 artists by a jury including art historian David Elliott; Mami Kataoka, deputy director and chief curator of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum; Hong Kong architect and collector William Lim; Financial Times arts editor Jan Dalley; and Chinese performance artist Zhang Huan. The jurors gave Imran Qureshi Studio the highest score in the history of the Prize.

Elliott commented on the winning work: “By concentrating on a moment of creation in Imran Qureshi’s studio where he was an assistant, not only does he stress the importance of his former teacher’s work but also reveals its powerful context. Qureshi is shown making the gestural, blood-red hand paintings that shattered the atmosphere, scale and hierarchical methods of the traditional Mughal miniature to depict horror and terror in the present.”

SAF also announced Chinese artist Fu Xiaotong as the recipient of the inaugural USD 5,000 Women’s Art Prize, launched by Vogue Hong Kong. Fu was chosen for her minimalistic rice-paper relief, 163,680 Pinpricks, formed using a technique inspired by acupuncture. Pakistani artist Munawar Ali Syed won the USD 1,000 Public Vote Prize for his pen-and-ink work My 3rd Story in English, which reflects his personal struggles with overcoming the language barrier in metropolises where English is the lingua franca.

Finalists of the 2019 Sovereign Asian Art Prize included South Korean new media artist Cho Yi Kyung; Macau-based artist Eric Fok; Kazakh painter and installation artist Saule Suleimenova; and Singaporean light sculptor and painter Nicola Anthony. The finalists’ entries were auctioned at the gala, raising USD 300,000, to be split between the artists and the SAF.

Previous winners of the Prize include Hong Kong multimedia artist Adrian Wong, Indonesian painter and sculptor Haris Purnomo, and Chinese video artist Yang Yongliang.

Pamela Wong is assistant editor of ArtAsiaPacific.

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Massimo de Carlo Silverlens ACAW Opera Gallery 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art SAM