APB Signature Art Prize raised to $60,000

One of the richest regional art awards, the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation (APB) Signature Art Prize, just got bigger.

The award, which began in 2008 and takes place every three years, is raising the amount of its top prize by more than 30 per cent to $60,000. In its last edition in 2011, the prize money was $45,000.

The prize now tops another regional contemporary visual art award, the Sovereign Asian Art Prize, which has a prize purse of US$30,000 (S$37,500).

It was founded in 2003 by the Sovereign Art Foundation, which is set up by a global group of financial companies.

The bonus for the APB Foundation's top art prize comes after the number of its Juror's Choice Awards was reduced from three to two awards. The Juror's Choice awards, previously $10,000 each, are now $15,000 each.

The changes aim to make the prize more exclusive in its third edition, and to provide the grand prize recipient larger winnings to aid his artistic practice.

Works by six Singapore artists are among the 105 nominations from 24 countries and regions vying for the top prize.

They include mixed-media installations by artists Loo Zihan, Ho Tzu Nyen, Zhao Renhui and Zulkifle Mahmod, a video work by Nordiyana Omar and digital prints by Green Zeng. They face stiff competition from acclaimed artists such as China's Xu Zhen, Indonesia's FX Harsono and India's Shilpa Gupta.

The high quality of entries reflects the tightening of the by-nomination competition. The 36 independent art experts called to nominate artworks produced in the last three years, regardless of medium, are each allowed three nominations instead of five.

The list of nominators includes Hong Kong's influential curator and gallerist Johnson Chang and Malaysian artist Wong Hoy Cheong, as well as Singapore artist Cheo Chai Hiang and home-grown curator Alan Oei.

Of the 105 artworks, 15 will be short-listed by a panel of five judges, comprising director of the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Chris Saines; well-known Chinese curator Feng Boyi; director of the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, Luckana Kunavichayanont; director of New Delhi's Khoj International Artists' Association, Pooja Sood, and director of the Singapore Art Museum, Susie Lingham.

The short-list will be announced on Aug 11 and the 15 works will be exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum, a partner of the prize, from Nov 14 until next March. The winner will named at an awards ceremony in January.

The prize will also feature a People's Choice Award of $10,000, offered to the short-listed work that receives the highest number of public votes. Votes may be cast onsite at the exhibition in the Singapore Art Museum, or online via a Signature Art Prize microsite to be launched by November.

Artist Zeng, 41, who also helms home-grown film production company Mirtillo Films as a creative director, says he is "pleasantly surprised" his series of work, Malayan Exchange (Studies Of Notes Of The Future) - Variation 5, is in the running for the top prize.

The work features computer-generated digital prints of imaginary currency, which reexamine Singapore's history and national identity.

The first-time nominee of this prize and a finalist for the 2012 Sovereign Asian Art Prize says: "I'm happy my work is nominated and more people will get to see it, if it is a finalist. The money is a bonus."

This article was first published on June 17, 2014.
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