Abraaj Capital Art Prize logoThe Abraaj Capital Art Prize is the only contemporary art prize that awards solely to artists in or from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region.

The Abraaj Capital Art Prize (ACAP) 2013 announced five winning artists on 27 August 2012. Among them is Hrair Sarkissian, the first Syrian artist to receive an award in the Prize’s history. Like his fellow awardees, Sarkissian has six months to realise his project, which will be exhibited at Art Dubai in March 2013.

5 diverse winners

ACAP 2013 winning artists are Vartan Avakian from Lebanon, Iman Issa from Egypt, Huma Mulji from Pakistan, Hrair Sarkissian from Syria and Rayyane Tabet from Lebanon. We profile each below.

Vartan Avakian is a Lebanese artist who was born in 1977. He studied communication arts, architecture and urban culture in Lebanon and Spain. Avakian uses a multi-disciplinary approach including drawing on video, installation and photography to deal with themes of popular culture and urbanity, and is a founding member of Atfal Ahdath with two other artists, Hatem Imam and Raed Yassin. Take me to this place: I want to do the memories, one of the group’s mixed media works, is on show at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo until 28 October 2012.

Iman Issa, 'Thirty-three Stories about Reasonable Characters in Familiar Places' installation view, 2012, in "The Ungovernables": 2012 New Museum Triennial, New York.

Iman Issa, born in 1979, is an Egyptian artist who is based in both Cairo and New York. She graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the American University of Cairo. She adopts a variety of mediums including text, sound, sculpture, photography and video to explore the relationship between language, history and personal cognition and articulation. Her installation work was exhibited in “The Ungovernables”: 2012 New Museum Triennial from 15 February to 22 April 2012 in New York.

Huma Mulji, 'Twlight', 2011, at Project 88 (Mumbai, India)

Huma Mulji, 'Twilight' installation view, 2011, at Project 88 (Mumbai, India).

Huma Mulji is a Pakistani artist who was born in 1970. She received her Bachelor in Fine Art from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Pakistan and her Master in Fine Art (New Media Arts) from Transart Institut in Berlin. Mulji uses photography, sculpture and drawings to discuss identity through the metaphor of travel and the freedom it affords for self-exploration. Her installation series “Twlight” was exhibited from 10 November to 24 December 2011 at Mumbai gallery Project 88.

Hrair Sarkissian, 'City Fabric(No.1)', 2010, Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space at Johnson Museum of Art, New York

Hrair Sarkissian, 'City Fabric (No.1)', 2010, in "Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space" at Johnson Museum of Art, New York.

Hrair Sarkissian is a Syrian photographer who was born in 1973. He is the first Syrian artist to be awarded the ACAP prize. Sarkissian studied photography in Amsterdam and trained for twelve years in his father’s photographic studio. His work is on show as part of the the group exhibition “Arab Express” at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo until 28 October 2012.

Rayyane Tabet, 'How to Play Beirut (South)', 2010, Inkjet Print on archival paper, 153cmx138cm

Rayyane Tabet, 'How to Play Beirut (South)', 2010, inkjet print on archival paper, 153 cm x 138 cm.

Rayyane Tabet is a Lebanese artist and architect who lives and works in New York. He received his Bachelor degree in Architecture in New York and a Master in Fine Arts in San Diego. His installations are predominantly about transformation and he exhibits a concern with hidden histories. Work by Tabet was on show in “The Ungovernables”: 2012 New Museum Triennial from 15 February to 22 April 2012 in New York.

Click here to visit the official website for the Abraaj Capital Art Prize.

Awards for proposed works only

After review by the ACAP Selection Committee, each selected art project is awarded USD100,000 to cover production costs. Winning artists work with the Prize’s guest curator, who in 2013 is critic and art historian Murtaza Vali, to complete their projects within six months. The finished works will be exhibited at Art Dubai in March 2013.

The Abraaj Capital Art Prize was first initiated in 2008 and is the only art prize awarding artists solely from the MENASA (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) region. As stated in an organisational press release, the Prize aims to give “winners the opportunity of developing ambitious projects which without the granted funds would not have been possible”. In an effort to promote orginality and regional art culture, only new independent proposed artworks are accepted for submission.


Related Topics: art prizes, West Asian artists, South Asian artists

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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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