Halima Cassell Wins 2018 Sovereign Asian Art Prize
By Tianhui Huang
On May 11, British-Pakistani artist and sculptor Halima Cassell was awarded the 14th Sovereign Asian Art Prize at a gala dinner in Hong Kong.
Cassell received a trophy and USD 30,000 for her bronze sculpture Acapella—the third sculptural work to win the prize, after Hong Kong artist Adrian Wong's entry in 2014 and Li Hongbo's entry in 2017—featuring a rippled design inspired by musical rhythms. The winning piece was selected by a jury including Alexandra A. Seno, head of development at Hong Kong’s Asia Art Archive; Fumio Nanjo, director of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum; Financial Times arts editor Jan Dalley; and renowned Pakistani contemporary artist Rashid Rana.
Chair judge David Elliott, a British independent curator and writer who has served as artistic director for biennials in Moscow, Kiev and Sydney, said of Cassell’s entry: “Acapella is an intricate symphony of curves. Carved first in clay, then cast in bronze, its dark density and color evoke […] the impression of a nocturne, a staple of romantic music in the west; but its abstract architecture could also express the rhythms and colors of an Asian raga that, too, [is] often played in the evening.”
Also announced at the gala dinner was the winner of the Public Prize, or the Schoeni Prize, which is decided by a popular vote. Pakistani artist Muhammad Onaiz Taji clinched this award, receiving USD 1,000 for his ink painting on wasli paper, titled 25th December 2016, depicting a mass of miniature human figures inspired by the crowds the artist had witnessed on a trip to Lahore’s Shah Jamal shrine.
An exhibition of the 30 shortlisted emerging and mid-career artists was mounted at H Queen’s from April 26 to May 5. Finalists included Hong Kong new media artist and sculptor Otto Li Tin Lun; Uzbek-born multimedia artist Said Atabekov; Kazakh painter and installation artist Saule Suleimenova; and Japanese multimedia artist Noriko Yamaguchi, with artworks exploring topics such as identity, social anxiety, political tensions, time, and memory, among others. The entries were auctioned off at the gala, with proceeds split between the artists and the Sovereign Art Foundation.
Previous Sovereign Asian Art Prize winners include Chinese sculptor Li Hongbo, Mumbai-based artist Baptist Coelho, and Cambodian-American artist Anida Yoeu Ali.
The Sovereign Art Foundation is a transnational charitable organization dedicated to promoting the educational and therapeutic benefits of art. It launched the annual Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2003 to increase the international exposure of artists in the region.
Tianhui Huang is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.
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