Ben Quilty, Singapore Biennale, win Prudential Eye Awards

New Zealand artist Daniel Crooks (digital/video), Indonesian artist Jompet Kuswidananto (installation), Australian artists Trent Parke (photography) and Ben Quilty (painting), and Korean artists Seoung Wook Sim (sculpture) are the winners of the inaugural Prudential Eye Awards for Contemporary Asian Art 2014, with Quilty named the overall winner.

Each was awarded a prize of US$20,000, with Quilty receiving a further $30,000 and a solo exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, London, in the summer of 2014 as the overall winner.

Crooks beat the Russian punk band Pussy Riot in his category, whose controversial video featuring a protest inside a Moscow cathedral landed its members in jail. Two of the band members attended the ceremony in Singapore. Read story here.

Quilty’s rich impasto paintings explore the problematic relationship between the personal and the cultural and four of his paintings were entered in the competition: “Smashed Rorschach,” 2009, a self-portrait from the artist’s acclaimed series of Rorschach paintings; “Dad with peacock feather hair,” 2013; “The Island,” 2013, an epic 24 panel oil & acrylic on linen, 390cm x 880cm; and the portrait “Griggs,” 2012.

The self-portrait “Smashed Rorschach” and “Dad with peacock feather” are now on view at Suntec until Feb 5, as part of an exhibition of all the short-listed artists.

“Most of my works are quite graphical and often looking at rights of passages and masculinity and the flaws nature, particularly of western masculinity,” Quilty said. His Rorschach series examined the right of passage and ritual ceremony in Australia for young men, a one night of alcohol binge. “These drawings by Roschach are all about psycho-analysis and if you can see an image then you’re showing signs of paranoia or disillusion behavior. So if you can see something, then it’s some joke on the audience that we are showing some signs of paranoia,” he said pointing at his painting. (this writer did see Quilty’s face in an alcohol wasted haze).

The internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Liu Xiaodong was honoured for his contribution to contemporary Asian art with a special prize supported by Audemars Piguet, while the Singapore Biennale took the prize for exhibition of the year of Asian art (beating the Guggenheim's "NO country exhibition) and the 6-year-old Galerie Chandan in Kuala Lumpur, was recognised as the most promising Asian gallery. The Prudential Singapore Young Artist Award was handed to James John Dycoco from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) for his photographic work.

Over 500 nominations were made for the new prize, and 20 shortlisted artists were shortlisted.

The Prudential Eye Awards were founded by the Global Eye Programme, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes Asian artists and was established by Parallel Contemporary Art in collaboration with the Saatchi Gallery. Prudential is the title sponsor of the Awards, having supported Indonesian Eye (2011) and Hong Kong Eye (2013) exhibitions, and Malaysian Eye, which is coming in March in Kuala Lumpur (Mar 27- April 2014) at mapKJ Publicka and will then move on to Saatchi Gallery in London in June 2014 as part of START.

"People told us we would never found enough artists, but I've seen the worksand they are amassing. We'll be showing about 20 artists," said David Ciclitira, co-founder of Parallel Contemporary Art.

A new book “Malaysian Eye: Contemporary Malaysian Art” will provide a survey of Malaysian contemporary art, with some 75 local artists being featured.

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