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Hong Kong [April 2019] The Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF) has announced the top 30 finalists of The 2019 Sovereign Asian Art Prize, the 15th edition of Asia’s most prestigious prize for contemporary artists. Over 70 independent art professionals from across Asia Pacific nominated 400 mid-career artists, hailing from 28

countries, for the Prize. A total of 19 countries are represented amongst the 30 finalists, making it the most geographically diverse shortlist in the history of the Prize.

This edition of the Prize also sees the launch of a brand-new award. The Vogue Hong Kong Women’s Art Prize, to be presented in partnership with the newly launched Vogue Hong Kong, will see US$5,000 awarded to the highest scoring female artist in the competition (except for the Grand Prize Winner). The entries were shortlisted by an international panel of world-class art specialists, including writer, curator and museum director David Elliott; Jan Dalley, Arts Editor of the Financial Times; Mami Kataoka, Deputy Director and Chief Curator at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Hong Kong architect, artist and educator William Lim; and internationally renowned artist Zhang Huan. Nominators are typically art critics, lecturers and independent curators who work closely with artists in their respective regions.

The selected artists represent cutting-edge contemporary art practices from the countries in which they reside. Their artworks explore and encourage discourse on a wide range of subject matters, including ideas of family, identity, growth, cultural heritage and diaspora; space, time, urban development and the spatial rhythms of modern cities, amongst others. The finalists are:

Abdullah M.I. Syed AUSTRALIA
Etsu Egami CHINA
Fuxiaotong CHINA
Angela Yuen HONG KONG
Shreyas Karle INDIA
Andy Dewantoro INDONESIA
Katsumi Hayakawa JAPAN
Narynov Saken KAZAKHSTAN
Saule Suleimenova KAZAKHSTAN
Ulan Dzhaparov KYRGYZSTAN
Chanmin Park KOREA
Cho, Yi Kyung KOREA
Minho Kim KOREA
Eric Fok MACAO
Munkhjargal Jargalsaikhan MONGOLIA
Ashmina Ranjit NEPAL
Ahmed Javed PAKISTAN
Munawar Ali Syed PAKISTAN
Naveed Sadiq PAKISTAN
Nicola Anthony SINGAPORE
Urich Lau Wai-Yuen SINGAPORE
Sujeewa Kumari Weerasinghe SRI LANKA
Sawangwongse Yawnghwe THAILAND


Chair Judge David Elliott said of the 2019 entries:

In this, another great year for The Sovereign Asian Art Prize, Korea, Pakistan and Singapore figure strongly in the judges’ choice, with excellent representations also from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macao, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. This must be one of the most diverse manifestations of art from Asia. As many of these artists are still emerging on the international scene, it is a great opportunity to discover their work.

The Sovereign Art Foundation’s (SAF) portfolio of social responsibility projects includes art empowerment programmes geared towards Vietnam’s most vulnerable children, a music and arts programme for orphaned or abandoned children in Mongolia’s capital, arts healing projects for victims of human trafficking in Cambodia; and a youth-lead pilot project in rural Nepal that raises awareness of children’s rights. Often the children in these programmes are victims of poverty, human trafficking, child labour, drug use or physical abuse. The Foundation uses art as a means of rehabilitating them, building self-confidence and encouraging them to return to education.

Since 2013, SAF has focused on growing its own Make It Better (MIB) project, an initiative that provides expressive arts-led learning activities to children living in some of the Hong Kong’s most impoverished areas. The programme currently delivers weekly workshops in 27 schools and centers across Hong Kong. SAF also runs the ‘Jockey Club Expressive Arts Programme for Children’, which is funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. The pioneering programme, organised in partnership with the Centre on Behavioural Health, The University of Hong Kong, is designed to enhance efficacy in communication in teaching and learning activities within primary schools and community centres in Hong Kong; focusing specifically on students with special educational needs, their teachers and social workers.

SAF Founder and Chairman Howard Bilton said of the finalists:

Once again, we have an extremely strong selection of work for our 15th Asian competition. All artists are nominated by independent experts. We ask the nominators to choose the best artists working in their country today. Not up-and-coming or emerging artists; but the best. We get around 500 entries using this method and from these, our judges select the 30 strongest works. This guarantees extraordinary quality and gives our supporters the best possible chance of buying investment quality art. Instead of asking for donations, we provide an investment opportunity.

This year, most funds [raised through the Gala Dinner and Auction] will be applied towards our Make it Better project, adding to the substantial grant we received from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust in 2017. In one of the richest cities in the world, we are surprised and a little outraged that one in every five people lives below the official government poverty line. We hope that our generous supporters will share our belief in the need to help disadvantaged children and that our charity dinner will once again raise enough funds to make a difference. Please help us to make it better.”

The 30 shortlisted artworks will be exhibited from 17–29 April 2019 at HART Hall in H Queen’s, G/F, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong.  At the exhibition, the public can view the works first-hand and will be invited to cast a vote for their favourite work to win the Public Vote Prize (votes will also be accepted via the SAF web gallery and Facebook page).  All voters will automatically be entered into a lucky draw to win two Business Class tickets to any Asia destination on the Cathay Pacific network, courtesy of our Official Airline Partner.  The Grand Prize and Public Vote Prize winning artists, to be awarded US$30,000 and US$1,000 respectively, will be announced along with the winner of the Vogue Hong Kong Women’s Art Prize at The Sovereign Art Foundation’s ‘Make It Better’ Gala Dinner and Auction on 17 May 2019, at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. Here shortlisted artworks will be auctioned and proceeds split evenly between the artists and SAF’s charitable projects. 

Tickets to the Gala Dinner and Auction can be purchased through the SAF website or by contacting Kristy Lam at Kristy@SovereignArtFoundation.com or +852 2542 1177.
Absentee bids on finalist artworks are welcomed and interested parties can send their bids to the same contact.