Three Chinese lauded for contemporary art

Updated: 2012-11-09 02:36

By Zhang Zixuan (China Daily)

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The 2012 Chinese Contemporary Art Awards were announced at the Art Gallery of the Central Academy of Fine Arts on Wednesday, naming this year's Best Artist, Best Young Artist and Lifetime Contribution Artist.

Founded as the first academic and independent Chinese art award in 1997 by Swiss collector Uli Sigg, CCAA awards are given biannually to Chinese artists and art critics who show particular talent in artistic creation and in its critique. There have been 18 artists and four critics awarded during the past 15 years.

"Through CCAA awards, we hope to enhance awareness and appreciation of a wider public for what Chinese contemporary art contributes to contemporary culture," says Sigg, CCAA founder as well as a leading collector of Chinese contemporary art. He also previously served as his country's ambassador to China.

This year's jury also includes six other renowned Chinese and foreign experts on contemporary art, namely Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Chris Dercon, Feng Boyi, Huang Zhuan, Li Zhenhua and Lars Nittve.

"The team is a good balance of knowing (the nominees well) and not knowing to avoid biased judgment," says judge Christov-Bakargiev, curator of Documenta 13, Kassel 2012 and Sydney Biennale 2008.

The honored three were carefully selected from 45 nominees through one week's review and a two-day closed-door discussion.

This year's Best Artist award went to Hong Kong-based artist Pak Sheung-chuen, who usually expresses everyday situations and common people through installations, photos and paintings.

"Pak's art is almost invisible, almost impossible to document, but manages to explore the human condition in all its complexities and with loving precision," comments judge Nittve, director of M+ Museum of Visual Arts in Hong Kong.

"As an artist who has matured in terms of methodology, he focuses on the realities of everyday life, revealing the uniqueness that enables the exploration of its uncharted potentialities. Consequently, these potentialities of everyday life, suppressed by the grand narratives of modernity, become the center of artistic expression and assume new meanings," continues judge Feng, independent curator and art critic.

The Best Young Artist (no older than 30) went to 26-year-old artist Yan Xing. His works encompass a wide range of creative media, such as performance, video and written words.

"From Daddy, his earliest work dealing with how he grew up in a single-parent family, Yan has evolved a style that blends personal experience and self-illusion with cultural reading, which trapped the audience in a kind of inexplicable skepticism about truth," comments judge Li, multimedia artist and curator.

"Yan's descriptions about social subcultures create a contrast between the content's absurdity and the describer's confidence, which makes it hard to tell the true from the false according to what we see and hear," adds judge Dercon, director of Tate Modern, London.

The jury gave Lifetime Contribution award to Geng Jianyi, who has been a practitioner of Chinese contemporary art for nearly 30 years, and is considered "the most undervalued artist on the contemporary art scene in China".

His works, from the best-known baldhead painting The Second Situation in the 1980s to the large-scale installation Useless after 2000, were featured in his first retrospective exhibition in September.

"Geng has moved beyond the limits of his times in many ways, confronting different historical and social orders and exploring the nature of subjectivity through diverse media, materials and techniques," says judge Huang Zhuan, director of OCT Contemporary Art Center in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

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