Sovereign Asian Art Prize 2014: Hong Kong’s Adrian Wong wins top award

For the second successive year, the top award of the Sovereign Asian Art Prize is awarded to an artist from Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s Adrian Wong has won the tenth edition of the Sovereign Asian Art Prize, Asia’s longest established and most prestigious contemporary art award. The win, announced on 9 May 2014 at a gala dinner and auction, makes Wong the second Hong Kong artist to take the prize in consecutive years, following MAP Office in 2013.

Adrian Wong, 'Untitled (GRATES III/IV: Golden Electrical Company / Sheng Kung Hui Kei Yan Primary School), steel, plastic, enamel, 152 x 152cm. Image courtesy Sovereign Art Foundation.

Adrian Wong, ‘Untitled (GRATES III/IV: Golden Electrical Company / Sheng Kung Hui Kei Yan Primary School)’, steel, plastic, enamel, 152 x 152 cm. Image courtesy Sovereign Art Foundation.

Adrian Wong was chosen as the winner of the USD30,000 first prize from among thirty finalists representing twelve territories across Asia. The distinguished judging panel included David Elliot, Alice Mong, Lars Nittve, Fumio Nanjo, Emi Eu and Sunhee Kim. Wong’s winning artwork, Untitled (GRATES III/IV: Golden Electrical Company/ Sheng Kung Hui Kei Yan Primary School), is a sculpture made from steel, plastic and enamel.

The award was announced on 9 May 2014 during the annual Charity Gala Auction and dinner at Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong. The remaining 29 finalists’ artworks were auctioned by Christie’s at the event, raising USD500,000 which will be split between the artists and the Sovereign Art Foundation’s charitable causes and projects.

Reinterpreting boundaries

Wong was inspired to make Untitled (GRATES III/IV) by the numerous grates he passes on a daily basis in Hong Kong, designed to compartmentalise areas and create boundaries. However, Wong saw these grates as filters rather than dividers, creating a layered experience that is “simultaneously alienating and beautiful.” The sculpture was nominated by Serenella Ciclitira and Jehan Chu.

Reacting to his win, Adrian Wong was quoted in the press release as saying:

I have been aware of the charitable outreach and good works of the Sovereign Art Foundation for many years, but had long thought that the prize was one that was reserved for painters […] It will go a long way to support my ongoing studio practice, and I hope to provide some encouragement to those emerging artists whose works push beyond the picture plane.

Adrian Wong (b. 1980, Chicago) is a sculptural and video artist, and the co-founder and director of an arts consultancy and private studio called Embassy Projects. He holds an MA in Research Psychology (Stanford, 2003) and an MFA from Yale University (2005). Wong’s work has been exhibited in the United States, Hong Kong, Europe and Asia-Pacific, including at the Hong Kong Sculpture Biennial and Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen. He currently splits his time between Hong Kong and Los Angeles, where he teaches Sculpture and Critical Theory at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Wong’s victory comes on the heels of the win by art group MAP Office, also from Hong Kong, who won the Sovereign Asian Art Prize last year for their photographic work Back Home with Baudelaire, No. 5 (2005).

Anton Del Castillo, 'Monotony in Progress', mixed media, 110 x 150cm. Image courtesy Sovereign Art Foundation

Anton Del Castillo, ‘Monotony in Progress’, mixed media, 110 x 150 cm. Image courtesy Sovereign Art Foundation.

People’s choice: The Schoeni Prize

The Sovereign Art Foundation also awards a USD1000 Schoeni Prize based on a public vote to one of the thirty shortlisted artists. These shortlisted artists’ works were exhibited at the Rotunda in Hong Kong from 28 April to 8 May 2014 for public view and voting, as well as displayed as a virtual gallery for visitors to be able to vote online.

The winner of the 2014 Schoeni Prize was Filipino artist Anton Del Castillo (b. 1976), for his minimalistic mixed media work Monotony in Progress, which portrays how “life is a lacklustre cycle.” Del Castillo, who won the same award in 2010, has exhibited internationally and is currently Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines’ Integrated School in Quezon City.

More about the Sovereign Art Foundation

The Sovereign Art Foundation was established in 2003 as a charity in Hong Kong, and is now also registered in the UK and South Africa. The Foundation raises money to fund disadvantaged children and fund projects using art as education, rehabilitation and therapy. The Sovereign Asian Art Prize, now in its tenth edition, is the most prestigious and biggest award for the visual arts in the Asia region.

Kriti Bajaj

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Related Topics: Hong Kong artists, Filipino artists, award ceremonies, auctions, mixed media, sculpture, prizes, events in Hong Kong

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