Winners Announced for the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize 2018
By Pamela Wong
The winners of the Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Signature Art Prize 2018 were jointly announced by the Singapore Art Museum and APB Foundation at an awards ceremony, hosted at the National Museum of Singapore, on the evening of June 29. Comprising the Grand Prize, Jurors’ Choice Awards and People’s Choice Awards, the triennial Prize recognizes the most distinguished artworks to emerge from the Asia-Pacific region in the last three years. The 2018 Prize also included a finalist from Central Asia for the first time.
The Grand Prize, with a SGD 60,000 (USD 43,700) cash award, was won by Vietnamese artist Phan Thao-Nguyen’s multimedia installation Tropical Siesta (2015–17). The work is a part of Phan’s ongoing project “Poetic Amnesia” (2014– ), which is centered around writings by French Jesuit missionary and father of the romanized Vietnamese script, Alexandre de Rhodes, and the artist’s investigation into the blurring of fact and fiction. The two-channel video and accompanying oil paintings on X-ray-film backing create a dream-like, utopic world, inhabited only by children, who narrate the work’s loose narratives. According to Phan, Tropical Siesta is a realm wherein “the grandiose and the humble, the brutal and the fragile, the documented and the fictional [. . .]” coexist.
The two Juror’s Choice Awards, which each include a cash prize of SGD 15,000 (USD 11,000), were received by Singaporean artist Shubigi Rao and Thai artist Thasnai Sethaseree. Rao’s winning multimedia installation Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book. Vol I: Written in the Margins (2014–16), is the first complete portion of an ongoing project. It examines the attempts of different citizens at protecting libraries and books from various destructive forces. Thasnai’s Untitled (Hua Lamphong) (2016), on the other hand, is a towering collage of Buddhist monks’ robes, newspaper fragments, printed texts and colorful paper streamers that evoke the socio-political turmoils of modern Thailand.
Indonesian artist Gede Mahendra Yasa’s After Paradise Lost #1 (2014), a Batuan-style painting populated with dense layers of imagery referencing well-known works from Western and Indonesian art history, received the highest number of public votes, and won the People’s Choice Award, valued at SGD 10,000 (USD 7,000).
The shortlisted artworks were Bae Young-Whan’s four-channel video Abstract Verb – Can You Remember (2016); Yerbossyn Meldibekov’s installation of branded hides, Brand (2014–15); Au Sow Yee’s The Kris Project (2016), which took as its point of departure the sinophonic film industry of the 1950s and ’60s; Club Ate (Bhenji Ra and Justin Shoulder)’s single-channel video trilogy Ex Nilalang (Balud, Dysebel, Lola ex Machina) (2015); Fang Wei-wen’s installation Republic of Rubber Tape (2016), The Propeller Group’s video work AK-47 vs. M16 (2015); Mata Aho Collective’s sweeping weaving Kaokao #1 (2014); Yuichiro Tamura’s immersive installation Milky Bay (2016); Jitish Kallat’s animal sculptures of dental plaster, The Infinite Episode (2016); Leung Chi Wo and Sara Wong’s series of portraits He Was Lost Yesterday and We Found Him Today and Museum of the Lost (both 2015); and Chikako Yamashiro’s three-channel video Mud Man (2016).
The panel of judges for the fourth edition of the Prize comprised Mami Kataoka, chief curator of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum; Bose Krishnamachari, president of the Kochi Biennale Foundation; Joyce Toh, head of content and senior curator at Singapore Art Museum; Gerard Vaughan, director of the National Gallery of Australia; and artist Wong Hoy Cheong.
The exhibition of works by the winners and finalists will be on view at the National Museum of Singapore until September 2, 2018.
Pamela Wong is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.
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