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  • Jan 12, 2017

Pannaphan Yodmanee Wins 2016 Benesse Prize

Detail of Pannaphan Yodmanee’s mixed-media installation Aftermath (2016), which won the 2016 Benesse Prize, installed at the 2016 Singapore Biennale. Courtesy Singapore Art Museum.

At an award ceremony on January 12 in Singapore, 29-year-old Pannaphan Yodmanee was awarded the Benesse Prize, a three million Japanese yen (USD 26,250) prize given to an artist in the 2016 Singapore Biennale, "An Atlas of Mirrors." A jury of five, including Singapore Biennale curator Susie Lingham and the international artistic director of Benesse Art Site Naoshima, Akiko Miki, selected Yodmanee from a shortlist of five artists for her mixed-media wall mural Aftermath (2016), which mixes Buddhist imagery of heaven and hell onto Southeast Asian political history. Along with the cash prize, Yodmanee will receive a commission to create an artwork for the Benesse Art Site Naoshima, a network of art spaces funding by Benesse Holdings and Fukutake Foundation on three islands in the Seto Inland Sea.

Pannaphan Yodmanee was born in 1988 in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand, and her works investigate Buddhist karmic cycles of birth and death in the contemporary world. She previously won Thai Traditional Painting Awards (2013) and was featured in the “Thailand Eye” exhibition and the Saatchi Gallery, London, and the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC). Luckana Kunavichayanont, the current director of BACC, was a jury member, along with Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum director Fumio Nanjo, and the executive director of Hong Kong’s M+, Suhanya Raffel.

The Benesse Prize was previously awarded in conjunction with the Venice Biennale from 1995 to 2013. Previous winners included Cai Guo-Qiang, Olafur Eliasson and Rirkrit Tiravanija. The prize switched its affiliation to the 2016 Singapore Biennale, which opened on October 27 and runs through February 26. The shortlist of five artists from the 2016 Singapore Biennale (SB2016) included Qiu Zhijie and Ade Darmawan.

At the awards ceremony, Benesse Art Site founder and prize also awarded the inaugural Soichiro Fukutake Prize to Singaporean artist Zulkifle Mahmod for his installation Sonicreflection (2016). The prize is a visit to the Benesse Art Site Naoshima, and Fukutake reportedly came up with it specifically after seeing Mahmod’s installation in SB2016.

HG Masters is editor-at-large of ArtAsiaPacific.

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