Monday, June 01, 2020

Melbourne-based vies for Asia’s top contemporary art prize

Apr 01. 2020
Caspian Palms, Almagul Menlibayeva (Finalist, The 2020 Sovereign Asian Art Prize)
Caspian Palms, Almagul Menlibayeva (Finalist, The 2020 Sovereign Asian Art Prize)
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By The Nation

Chiang Mai university's fine arts lecturer has made the shortlist for the 2020 edition of Asia’s most prestigious contemporary arts prize

Rushdi Anwar - Placeless Burden; Towards Uncertainty

Rushdi Anwar faces fierce competition after 30 of the region’s brightest creatives were announced yesterday as finalists for this year’s Sovereign Asian Art Prize. At stake is the US$30,000 grand prize, which acts as a springboard to help artists go on to achieve record prices as well as gain invaluable exposure to wider audiences.

Rushdi was shortlisted for his photographic meditation on war and suffering in the Middle East and Kurdistan, where he originally hails from. His image of a woman in black flowing abeya carrying a child-size cardboard box to a cemetery will be judged alongside 30 other works, ranging from installations to paintings to mixed media collages.

In addition to the grand prize, finalists will compete for a Public Vote prize of $1,000.

The finalists hail from 18 countries and territories across Asia-Pacific, of which Hong Kong has the strongest representation with four artists, followed by South Korea and Indonesia with three each.

Amritah Sen - Myths from Modern Bengal (a set of five Book Art)

This year saw a record 600 entries from 30 countries and regions.

The 31 finalists were shortlisted by a panel of five world-class art specialists –museum director David Elliott, Financial Times arts editor of Jan Dalley, art historian Jiyoon Lee, artist and professor Miao Xiaochun, and contemporary Chinese artist Zhou Li.

Chair judge David Elliott commented on this year’s shortlist:

The shortlisted artworks are offered for sale through auction by Christie’s Hong Kong, with selected works available to purchase online and at the exhibition. Proceeds will be split evenly between the artists and SAF, where they will be used to fund charitable programmes for disadvantaged children.


Alex Seton - Oilstone

Said Howard Bilton, founder and chairman of SAF:

“This group of artworks may be the strongest we have ever had. We ask nominators to send us the very best mid-career artists working in their country today, this guarantees artwork of extraordinary quality and means that instead of asking for donations, we can give our supporters an opportunity to buy investment-quality art. Most of the funds raised from the sale of these artworks will be applied locally towards our Make It Better (MIB) programme – an initiative that supports children from low-income backgrounds and with special educational needs in Hong Kong.”

The Prize will be supported by a programme of events taking place in May this year, including an exhibition, an art forum and live auction. For now, the public can view the artworks and vote for their favourite online at

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