Vietnam Time

7/1/2018 9:53:58 PM

Vietnamese female visual artist wins Signature Art Prize

For the first time, a female Vietnamese artist has won the grand prize at the Signature Art Prize, a triennial award meant to recognise outstanding examples of contemporary art from both emerging and established artists in the Asia-Pacific region.

Phan Thao Nguyen (middle) is awarded the Grand prize at the 2018 Signature Art Prize in Singapore in this photo provided by the prize’s organisers.

Vietnamese visual artist Phan Thao Nguyen was announced winner of the 2018 Signature Art Prize with the grand prize of SGD 60,000 (USD 44,022) at the award ceremony taking place at the National Museum of Singapore on Friday.

Comprising a two-channel video and six oil paintings on x-ray film backing, Phan Thao Nguyen’s Tropical Siesta features an imaginary tale of a rural Vietnam populated only by children. Set in an agricultural community, they reenact the observations recorded by French Jesuit missionary Alexandre de Rhodes (considered the father of the romanised Vietnamese script) as he travelled through Vietnam in the 17th century.

The artwork is part of her larger project, Poetic Amnesia, which is based on the artist’s research in Rhodes’ life and work.

“Tropical Siesta” was also displayed in Nguyen’s previous exhibition in Hanoi in December 2017.

The two juror’s choice awards, with the worth of SGD 15,000 (USD 11,000) each, were awarded to Shubigi Rao from Singapore and Thailand’s Hua Lamphong.

Indonesian artist Gede Mahendra Yasa took home the SGD 10,000 (USD 7,337) people's choice award by receiving the most votes from visitors.

All 15 works of art shortlisted for the prize are on display at the National Museum of Singapore until September 2nd.

Like the previous editions, the 2018 Signature Art Prize was organised by the Singapore Art Museum and sponsored by the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation to put the spotlight on the most compelling, cogent and complex works of art over the previous three years.

This year, the field was not only limited to the Asia-Pacific rim but also enlarged to include Central Asia.

The 2018 also observed the fourth times that the Signature Art Prize has been held since its inauguration in 2008.

But it is the first time for a Vietnamese artist to outdo her senior artists, who also set their names among the finalists, to seize the grand prize.

Nguyen said that the grand prize meant very much to her as Singapore was where she grew and developed as an artist when she spent a year studying and completing a residency artist program there.

“My artwork, Tropical Siesta, is a video installation that explores hidden histories of Vietnam imaginatively through the lens of children. The artwork is not just about historical events, but also how an artist feels and sees a particular narrative, and develops it into the language of painting and video.”

“I will spend part of the S$60,000 prize supporting children in Gia Lai,” she added./.

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