Korean artists dominate Sovereign ASian Art Prize finalists

Chan-Hyo Bae's Existing in Costume Sleeping Beauty
Korean artists are dominating the list of Sovereign Asian Art Prize finalists, underlying the currently vitality of that local art scene. No less than 10 Korean artists are viying for the annual prestigious prize organized by the Sovereign Art Foundation, a charity registered in Hong Kong and the UK that raises money to help disadvantaged children using the arts.

Amongst my favorite works is a photograph by Chan-Hyo Bae, a London-based artist who has been exmining representative western fair tales, examining how social classes are present and defined in these stories and how they contain tacit messages that the weak should obey the order designed by the strong in order to enjoy happiness.

I also very much liked the works by two Singaporean artists: Ng Joon Kiat's World Map: Making greener pasture, magical economics, melting land, a painting with beautiful texture which photos cannot render justice to, and Zhao Renhui's Changi, Singapore, possibly 1970s, a dream desert-like landscape that may have once been Singapore's shoreline...

Ng Joon Kiat

Zhao Renhui

In parallel to the main prize, a Singapore "edition" was launched last year to benefit Art Outreach. Where some 20 selected works by Singaporean artists that had been entered for the top Prize (but were not selected as finalists) are also presented in the exhibition and will be auctioned on Jan 14 to benefit ArtOutreach and the artists.

There are some very interesting works. My favorite is Roy Zhang's The 2 Brothers, a photographic dyptic of the artist's two young sons. Having blow up their heads and sligthly distorted their figure, the two boys' eyes now offer two different, strong emotion: one that evoke innocence and on the other weariness of the world, which the artist feels represent his inner self.

Established in 2003 the foundation runs the annual Sovereign Art Prizes in Asia and Europe. This year for the Asian edition, it received over 400 entries from established and emerging artists, all nominated by a board of experts. The 30 finalists were selected by a panel and are then exhibited in prominent public spaces in the region (the works are now in Singapore at the MBS to coincide with Art Stage, so check out the third floor of the convention center)

With the exception of the winning entry, which becomes the property of the Foundation, all art works are sold by auction during a special charity dinner, with the proceeds split between the artist and the Foundation. The auctions have acted as a spring board, enabling many mid-career artists
(Rashid Rana, Qi Zhi Long and Haris Purnomo among others) to achieve record prices and is also a great opportunity for selected unknown artist to showcase their works.