Wounded` at the awards

Kishore Singh / New Delhi July 04, 2008, 0:55 IST

At a time when the art market is booming, India has lost out chance to send enough invited works for the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize supported by the Singapore Art Museum.

Only one work instead of three will represent India at this inaugural event where 34 artworks from 12 Asia-Pacific countries will compete for five awards — three juror's choice awards of S$ 10,000 each, a S$ 10,000 people's choice award, and the grand prize of S$ 45,000 (Rs 14.30 lakh). This is the highest art prize to be awarded by a jury in the South-east Asian region.

The lone artist chosen from India — each country is expected to nominate three — is G R Iranna, whose Wounded Tools is representative of the contemporary art in diverse themes that the triennale award hopes to promote. The sculptural installation has used fibreglass, artificial fur, iron, wood, acrylic colouring and cloth to comment on the development of human civilisation and its intrinsic follies.

Other representative works are from Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Signature Art Prize has been compared by Trustee and Chairman Koh Poh Tiong of the APB Foundation's advisory committee with the John Moores Painting Competition in the UK and the RBC Canadian Painting Competition in Canada.

According to Kwok Kian Chow, director, Singapore Art Museum, which claims the largest collection of contemporary artworks by artists from the South-eastern region, "The quality of the nominated artwork is remarkable...[It] will provoke and stimulate lively public debate about contemporary art in the region."

According to Vinay Mathur, chief finance officer, Asia Pacific Breweries (Aurangabad) Ltd, "The nominator for the works from India is Professor Rajeev Lochan, director, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi."

He said nominations were made by a nominator appointed by the company in each of the 12 participating countries, "all of whom are knowledgeable and experienced in contemporary art in their country".

Though three artists were nominated as "the most outstanding artworks produced by a visual art practitioner in the country over the last three years" based on "the strength of the idea and concept; creative and interesting use of medium and material; technique, expression and form; artistic insight and interpretation; and imagination and originality", he said: "Two of the artists later decided to withdraw; one because of a change in circumstance, the other for personal reasons." The artists who pulled out have not been identified.

Mathur explained, "The nominator [Prof Lochan] had reviewed many visual artworks created in the last three years to arrive at the nominations. The decision-making process was challenging and probably agonising. Asking the nominator to select two more artworks in India was simply not feasible at so late a stage in the nomination process, and therefore, we made the decision to proceed with one nomination from India."
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