Sri Lankan artist Pala Pothupitiye has been awarded the 2010 Sovereign Asian Art Prize, winning against, according to a recent press release, the strongest ever group of finalists. The artist, who won with mixed media work Jaffna Map, has vowed to use the prize money to help raise awareness of Sri Lankan art.

Pala Pothupitiye, 'Jaffna Map', pen and colour pencil on printed map, 92 x 66 cm. Image courtesy Sovereign Art Foundation.

Pala Pothupitiye, 'Jaffna Map', pen and colour pencil on printed map, 92 x 66 cm. Image courtesy Sovereign Art Foundation.

Click here to read more about the artist on the Sovereign Art Foundation website.

From the press release (Hong Kong, 17 March 2011)

The Sovereign Art Foundation announced Pala Pothupitiye as the winner of the 2010 Sovereign Asian Art Prize last night at a gala dinner and auction sponsored by Julius Baer, leading Swiss private banking group with a longstanding tradition of supporting the arts. Hailing from Sri Lanka, Pala was the recipient of the US$25,000 prize for Jaffna Map, in which he recrafts official maps of Jaffna, located in the northern tip of Sri Lanka and a key city in the war between the Tamil Tigers from the north and the southern Sinhala Lions. Ferocious teeth and claws of Lions and Tigers decorate the land mass, while the ‘internally displaced persons’ are represented in the border areas, being chased away from the bestial clash.

Over 400 nominated entries from across Asia were received this year, of which 30 finalists were selected by a distinguished panel of judges: David Elliott, Fumio Nanjo, Lars Nittve, Tan Boon Hui, David Tang and Xu Bing. The works of the remaining 29 finalists were auctioned off last night, with sales totalling over US$300,000. Half of the proceeds go to the artists and the other half is donated to arts charities supported by The Sovereign Art Foundation. The winning artwork is retained by The Sovereign Art Foundation in order to promote the artist and Asian art to the community at large. The work will be eventually donated to a museum or used to further charitable causes.

Howard Bilton, Chairman of The Sovereign Group, commented, “Our judges were particularly impressed with the standard of entries this year. I think we certainly found the strongest ever group of finalists. It was therefore no surprise that nearly all works found buyers at above estimated prices. We expect many of these mid-career artists to go onto bigger and better things in the near future and buyers will find they picked up a real bargain even if they paid well over estimate.”

Winner Pala Pothupitiye stated, “I am deeply honoured to be recognised by the prestigious Sovereign Asian Art Prize. I am proud to be able represent Sri Lankan art and share it with the greater Asian region. The prize money will enable me to actualize ideas and work on projects that I otherwise would be unable to pursue and raise awareness for Sri Lankan art.”


Related Topics: South Asian artists, contemporary art prizes, maps in art

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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