Cambodian artist Svay Sareth, who escaped from his home as a refugee,
scooped up two prizes at a prestigious art awards ceremony last night.
Svay, whose work was part of the 2013 Singapore Biennale, bagged the
Overall Best Emerging Artist prize at the 2016 Prudential Eye Awards for
Contemporary Asian Art. For this, he received a US$30,000 (S$43,000)
cash prize, a citation and the chance to exhibit at London's prestigious
Saatchi Gallery this year.
He also won another US$20,000 for the Best Emerging Artist Award in the sculpture category.
The annual Prudential Eye Awards, now in its third year, recognises
the best emerging artists working with various mediums, including
installation, painting, photography and sculpture. It also recognises
institutions for organising cutting-edge exhibitions.
The event, held at the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands, was
officiated by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth. It
is part of the ongoing Singapore Art Week. The awards was founded by
British-Italian art lovers David and Serenella Ciclitira, in partnership
with insurance firm Prudential and Saatchi Gallery.
Prudential Eye Programme director Niru Ratnam called Svay's work "funny, poetic and confident".
The 43-year-old artist, who often uses everyday objects in his works,
fled his home in Battambang in Cambodia in 1979 and lived in a refugee
camp at the border of Thailand for 13 years before moving to Siem Reap,
where he is now based.
He learnt art in the refugee camp. His sculptures, installations and
performance-art pieces question notions of power and his country's
One such work titled Stake Or Skewer, which was in the reckoning for
the awards, is made of wood and 17 rubber sandals. The way the sandals
hang on a wooden pole alludes to his country's tumultuous political
history and the many lives lost.
Thai artist Sakarin Krue-On, 50, known for his site-specific
installations using Thai imagery, was honoured with the Lifetime
Achievement Award for Asian Contemporary Art.
Other key winners include India's Manish Nai, 35, who received the
Best Emerging Artist Award for Painting. He is known for his
unconventional use of materials and has been receiving international
acclaim for his abstract compositions.
Bangladesh's Shumon Ahmed, 39, who is known for his extensive
documentation of the conditions in ship-breaking yards of South Asia,
received the same award in the photography category.
There were no winners from Singapore this year. Last year, four Singapore artists and institutions won awards.
An exhibition featuring 39 art works by the 15 shortlisted artists runs at ArtScience Museum till March 27.