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NZ Artists Viying For International Art Prize


Artworks by Virginia King, Andy Leleisi’uao, Vea Mafile’o and Greg Semu nominated for $45,000 grand prize.

The second Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Signature Art Prize, returns this year with 130 artworks from 24 countries and territories vying for the Grand Prize of $44,500 (SGD 45,000). Organised by the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) and sponsor APB Foundation, this premier juried prize identifies and recognises artists for outstanding work, profiles significant recent creations coming from the region’s contemporary art landscape, and encourages the development of contemporary art in Asia Pacific.

New Zealand is represented by four nominated artworks created by the artists Virginia King, Andy Leleisi’uao, Vea Mafile’o and Greg Semu.

The artworks presented span a range of different mediums such as painting, installation and print to highlight concerns in New Zealand. The artworks were nominated by Dr Susan Cochrane who is a researcher, curator and writer specialising in contemporary Pacific and Aboriginal art, and Ms Ruth McDougall, who is the Associate Curator of Asian and Pacific Art at the Queensland Art Gallery.

Virginia King, three times awarded the People’s Choice at Sculpture on the Gulf, has created Southern Nautilus, a curvaceously bold stainless steel representation of the precious nautilus shell found washed up on New Zealand shores. A conversation about the sea is told through precise laser cut outs in the shell, highlighting New Zealand’s pacific isolation and King’s coastal influences and insights on the overfishing of our ocean.

The lively and intricate acrylic, Cryptid Illuminati, by Andy Leleisi’uao, is a triptych consisting of multiple horizontal bands, each telling the story of a dozen or so silhouetted figures engaged in mythical scenes of labour, love, death, planting and harvests. Painted during his residency at McCahon House, Leleisi’uao has enlivened the canvas’ black and white monotone with flashes of crimson.

Photographer Greg Semu’s striking work, The Last Cannibal Supper, is a provocative re-enactment of Leonardo Da Vinci’s similarly titled piece. Featuring the artist at the centre, palm branches, flax hut walls, and shells strike a Pacific resonance and it explores the religious colonisation of the Pacific’s indigenous peoples.

Vea Mafile’o’s Who Will Douse the Kingdom? is an eerie selection of stills taken from the artist’s short film of the same name. It documents riots which took place in her ancestral Tonga, in the capital city Nuku’alofa in 2006. The images echo the devastation of a once-thriving business district, and explore the reality of fires, looting and death. Presented in a circular formation, the stills symbolise a Kava circle, the Tongan traditional drink that involves a ritual of discussion and joint decision making.

This is the second time that New Zealand is participating in the APB Foundation Signature Art Prize.

The programme has been expanded to include nominations from the whole Asia Pacific region. The 130 works, nominated for being ground-breaking or note-worthy works created between 2008 and 2010, were selected by 31 independent art professionals and curators. The Prize amount to a total of SGD 85,000 cash awards, comprising one Grand Prize (SGD 45,000), three Jurors’ Prizes (SGD 10,000 each) and one People’s Choice Award (SGD 10,000).

The nominated artworks cover a wide range of media such as painting, mixed media, installation, video art, photography and prints, sculpture as well as performance art, with a significant increase in entries for video and moving-image works as well as monumental-sized installations. Established practitioners as well as emerging talents nominated this year include Daniel Crooks (Australia), Vandy Rattana (Cambodia), Qiu Anxiong (China), Eko Nugroho (Indonesia), Makoto Aida (Japan), Fauzan bin Omar (Malaysia), Htein Lin (Myanmar), Stéphanie Wamytan (New Caledonia), Imran Qureshi (Pakistan), Louie Cordero (Philippines), Jane Lee (Singapore), Sook-Jin Jo (South Korea) and Chen Chieh-jen (Taiwan).

Mr. Tan Boon Hui, Director of SAM says, “SAM is proud to collaborate once again with the APB Foundation to present this second edition of the Signature Art Prize. Contemporary art from Asia has emerged as one of the world’s most innovative and exciting. The expanded reach of this year’s Prize enables us to validate and profile even more artists and their practice in Asia Pacific. The Prize recognises and highlights the best in this region’s contemporary art developments in recent years. It demonstrates SAM’s role in uncovering ground-breaking artworks of lasting significance to our region, and profiling them to an international audience or art lovers, critics and collectors.”

Given the success of the inaugural prize in 2008, the APB Foundation increased its funding to offer artists from the whole Asia Pacific region the opportunity to be selected for this prestigious prize. Nominations for this 2011 edition now extend beyond the original 12 participating countries and territories to include, amongst others, Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, and other Oceania and Pacific islands. In all, APB Foundation has doubled its Prize funding from SGD$2.25 million for five editions to SGD$4.45 million. Consequently, the 2011 edition received close to four times more nominated artworks, compared to 34 artworks in the inaugural edition. It will also have 15 finalists shortlisted for the Grand Prize compared to 10 finalists in 2008.

Ms. Sarah Koh, General Manager, Group Corporate Communications, Asia Pacific Breweries Limited comments, “The Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation has an unwavering commitment to nurturing the development of a vibrant arts scene in the region. With the inaugural edition, we were not only encouraged by the enthusiastic response but also struck by the outstanding ideas creatively explored through the artworks. The APB Foundation believed the second edition to be an opportune time to expand the reach of the Prize beyond the initial focus of South-East Asia to the entire Asia Pacific region, creating opportunities for a wider pool of talented artists from the region to participate. With this increased support, we hope the Signature Art Prize continues to grow to become an award which validates artists and their work, providing not just financial support but also a level of recognition for their successes.”

Five judges, all eminent art experts and opinion makers will shortlist the 15 finalist artworks. The jury panel comprises: Mr. Fumio Nanjo, Director, Mori Art Museum; Mr. Gregor Muir, Executive Director, Institute of Contemporary Art London; Mr. Hendro Wijanto, leading Southeast Asian writer, critic and curator; Mr. Ranjit Hoskote, Curator of the India Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and leading South Asian poet-writer, curator and critic, and Mr. Tan Boon Hui, Director, Singapore Art Museum.

The 15 shortlisted finalists will be announced by 1 October 2011, when the public can also begin to vote online and nominate their favourite finalist work for the People’s Choice Award – awarded to the artwork that garners the most public votes – at An exhibition of the finalist artworks will open at SAM on 11 November 2011 and votes for the People’s Choice Award can also be cast in person at the exhibition. The Grand Prize, Jurors’ Prize and People’s Choice Award winners will be announced at the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize Awards Dinner on 18 November 2011.


Notes to editor:
Images and captions of the 130 nominated art works are available for download here:

About Singapore Art Museum
The mission of the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is to preserve and promote the contemporary art practices of Singapore and the Southeast Asian region. Opened in January 1996 as a museum under the National Heritage Board of Singapore, SAM has amassed one of the world’s largest public collections of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian artworks. Since 2009, SAM has focused its programming and collections development initiatives around contemporary Southeast Asian art and art practices. Through strategic alliances with arts and cultural institutions and community organisations, SAM facilitates visual arts education, exchange, research and development within the region and internationally. SAM is also the organiser of the Singapore Biennale 2011.

About Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation
The Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation was established in 1994 to ignite compassion and inspire talents through philanthropic efforts. It focuses on three community development areas – Human Excellence, Creativity Development and Humanitarian Causes and is committed to many initiatives ranging from arts funding and backing talent-building projects for human capital development, to engaging in meaningful partnership with organizations or individuals who share our common goal to serve the society.

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