New prize for Asian artists

New prize for Asian artists
Heri Dono, Flower Diplomacy (background), 2011, Mella Jaarsma, The Post Modernist (foreground), Indonesian Eye, 2011, images of previous Global Eye Programme exhibitions held in Indonesia and Korea.

SINGAPORE - Contemporary Asian artists have a new regional art award to aspire towards.

The Prudential Eye Awards was announced yesterday and it will premiere on Jan 18 next year. The by-nomination award aims to recognise emerging talent from Asia in five categories of art: photography, painting, sculpture, installation and digital/video.

The winner of each category will receive a US$20,000 (S$24,900) prize. An overall winner will also be picked and receive a further US$30,000, as well as a chance to show at the renowned Saatchi Gallery in London next year.

Life insurer Prudential is the title sponsor for the award, which is part of the Global Eye Programme that allows young artists to show their works through touring exhibitions. The programme was founded in 2008 by Parallel Contemporary Art, a not-for-profit organisation that supports emerging artists, and Saatchi Gallery.

This new award will rival the Sovereign Asian Art Prize, which was launched in 2003 as the region's biggest contemporary art award with a US$30,000 prize. The decade-old, by-nomination prize is by the Sovereign Art Foundation, a charity set up by a global group of financial companies.

Nominees for the Prudential Eye Awards will be picked by a select group of Asian art experts including curators, museum directors, art critics, artists, collectors, gallerists and heads of art foundations.

An independent panel of judges that includes Saatchi Gallery chief Nigel Hurst and Singapore's National Heritage Board group director of programmes Tan Boon Hui, will then shortlist 20 artists, who will exhibit their works from Jan 16 to Feb 5 at Suntec City.

The winners, picked by the judges, will be announced at the awards ceremony on Jan 18 at Suntec City.

In a press statement, Mr Tan, 44, says: "The new Prudential Eye Awards, and its recognition of Asian talents, has the potential to further strengthen Asian contemporary art's presence on the global stage."

Additional awards will also be given out at the ceremony to recognise the achievements of an exhibition of Asian art, an emerging gallery in Asia, and outstanding contribution by an artist to Asian contemporary art.

To support the Singapore art community, Prudential will also sponsor the Prudential Singapore Young Artist Award in partnership with Lasalle College of the Arts. Lasalle will nominate students in each of the five categories and the winner, selected by a panel that includes Mr Hurst and Mr Tan, will receive a US$10,000 prize.

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