Filipino artist Maria Taniguchi wins Hugo Boss Asia Art Award 2015

The 2nd edition of the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award announces winner.

Young Filipino artist Maria Taniguchi won the second edition of the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award presented at the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai.

Left to right: Larys Frogier, Maria Taniguchi and Marc Le Mat at the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award 2015 award ceremony on 26 November 2015, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai. Image courtesy Rockbund Art Museum.

Left to right: Larys Frogier, Maria Taniguchi and Marc Le Mat at the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award 2015 award ceremony on 26 November 2015, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai. Image courtesy Rockbund Art Museum.

On 26 November 2015, Director of the Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) Larys Frogier and Marc Le Mat, Managing Director of Hugo Boss China Retail Co. LTD, announced Filipino artist Maria Taniguchi as the winner of the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award for Emerging Asian Artists 2015.

Taniguchi was selected from a shortlist of six nominated artists, including Guan Xiao (Mainland China), Huang Po-Chih (Taiwan), Moe Satt (Myanmar), Vandy Rattana (Cambodia) and Yang Xinguang (Mainland China). An exhibition of the six artists’ works is in on display at RAM since 30 October 2015 and will run until 3 January 2016.

Larys Frogier is quoted in the press release as commenting on Taniguchi’s award:

[Maria Taniguchi’s] very singular, humble, but extremely focused practice of painting and video enriched the realm of media and raised a unique sensitivity of making the picture with infinite possibilities of meaning. […] Her never ending development of brick paintings engages subtle dialogues and blurs the frontiers with sculpture, architecture, installation, offering the spectators a powerful experience of the physical, the geo-political and the mental limitations/extensions of the inside-out space/time representations. Her detailed video compositions of objects, architectonic elements, and color spectrums turn out the repetition and the familiar into a full practice of difference and strangeness. Maria Taniguchi solidly positions her work, without any compromise, into the context of Asia and international contemporary art.

Installation view of works by Maria Taniguchi for Hugo Boss Asia Art Award 2015 at Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai. Image courtesy Rockbund Art Museum.

Installation view of works by Maria Taniguchi for Hugo Boss Asia Art Award 2015 at Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai. Image courtesy Rockbund Art Museum.

Who is Maria Taniguchi?

Born in 1981 in Dumaguete, Philippines, Maria Taniguchi received a BFA in Sculpture from the University of the Philippines in Manila, where she is currently based. In 2009 she graduated with an MFA in Art Practice from Goldsmiths, University of London and in the same year was also part of the LUX Associates Artists Programme, a London-based post-academic programme for artists working with the moving image.

Her work has been part of events and exhibitions around the world, including “The Philippine Contemporary: To Scale the Past and the Possible” (2013), curated by Patrick D. Flores at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, “Don’t You Know Who I Am? Art After Identity Politics” (2014), curated by Anders Kreuger at Antwerp’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MHKA), the screening “Reverence and Reproach: Modernist Legacies in Contemporary Film and Video” (2015) at Tate Britain, London and the 8th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary (2015) at QAGOMA, Brisbane.

In 2011, Taniguchi received the Philippine’s prestigious art prize Ateneo Art Award for her solo exhibition “Echo Studies” at the Jorge Vargas Museum, where she showed the first of her large-scale ‘brick’ paintings, alongside a video installation, drawings and photographic work. In 2012, she again won the award for her video work Untitled (Celestial Motors), shown at Silverlens in Manila.

Maria Taniguchi. Photo: Mark Nicdao. Image courtesy Rockbund Art Museum.

Maria Taniguchi. Photo: Mark Nicdao. Image courtesy Rockbund Art Museum.

Taniguchi primarily works in painting, sculpture and video. Form is of paramount importance in her work, whether in the volumes of her large-scale brick paintings constructed with rigorous composition and monochromatic techniques, the spatial balance between viewing and participation in her sculptures or the rhythms and patterns created in her videos.

Through the logic and patterns she follows and creates in her work, Taniguchi “unpacks knowledge and experience—connecting material culture, technology, and natural evolution—and investigates space and time, along with social and historical contexts”, as RAM writes in her profile. The socio-political and economic situation of the Philippines is reflected through her personal experience expressed in her work.

Taniguchi provides alternative views of common, daily objects and things we take for granted, by presenting them from a different perspective and focus. She reassembles them conceptually through her own visual re-elaboration or by stimulating the viewer’s renewed perception and re-interpretation of what they see.

Maria Taniguchi, “Untitled” series (detail), 2012–2015, acrylic on canvas. Image courtesy the artist and Rockbund Art Museum.

Maria Taniguchi, “Untitled” series (detail), 2012–2015, acrylic on canvas. Image courtesy the artist and Rockbund Art Museum.

Taniguchi’s winning works

Taniguchi began her brickwork paintings in 2007 and has now completed a series of over 60 of them. Each large-scale canvas is covered with individually painted segments of 4 by 2 centimetres, using acrylic in a monochromatic technique. Each brick is painted in a minute, subtle difference in colour, texture and detail, containing a fragment of the complete “narrative” contained in the finished painting.

The paintings are both individual works as well as “vast, limitless objects”. RAM writes:

The strict order brought about by the works symbolize an opaque reality and system wherein one is entrapped, thereby sensing the struggles that emerge within ideas as well as the determination in searching to overcome boundaries.

Maria Taniguchi, 'Untitled (ram dram sram)', 2015, die-cut paper, 71.12 x 96.52 x 25.40 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Rockbund Art Museum.

Maria Taniguchi, ‘Untitled (ram dram sram)’, 2015, die-cut paper, 71.12 x 96.52 x 25.40 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Rockbund Art Museum.

Untitled (ram dram sram) is a sculptural work made up of a pile of posters almost 25 cm high. The title, which sounds like an indistinct murmur or chant, refers to the various kinds of memory storage devices. Laser-etched holes cover the posters, conceptually akin to the codes etched on memory disks. The work as a whole is a “mechanical composition” in relation to memory: the viewers undergo a process of ‘reading’, while the sculpture is gradually erased through this ‘reading’.

Maria Taniguchi, 'Figure Study' (video still), 2015, single-channel HD video, black and white, sound, 2m:40s. Image courtesy the artist and Rockbund Art Museum.

Maria Taniguchi, ‘Figure Study’ (video still), 2015, single-channel HD video, black and white, sound, 2 min 40 sec. Image courtesy the artist and Rockbund Art Museum.

The relationship between objects, and images and viewer is explored in her video works Figure Study and I See, It Feels. The objects in Figure Study all have a personal relationship with the artist, and seem to contain a metaphor of an artistic domain. The space within which they are placed is uncertain, and the marble or plaster objects stand alone, yet hint to an inevitable relationship with each other.

Maria Taniguchi, 'I See, It Feels' (video still), 2015, single-channel HD video, colour, silent, 7m:30s. Image courtesy the artist and Rockbund Art Museum.

Maria Taniguchi, ‘I See, It Feels’ (video still), 2015, single-channel HD video, colour, silent, 7 min 30 sec. Image courtesy the artist and Rockbund Art Museum.

In I See, It Feels the artist “uses […] uncertain imagery to explore our creation, manipulation, and transformation of the text”. The background is a motionless black and white image of a black notebook covering an image of an orchid. A transparent patch of red, green and orange changes every ten seconds, covering the image with different colours at regular intervals. Taniguchi references the image filters used ubiquitously on social media platforms, where the manipulation of images and their rapid transformation influences emotions and reactions.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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