Azin Zolfaghari Wins 2022 Sovereign Asian Art Prize
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Azin Zolfaghari beat 29 other shortlisted artists for the coveted US $30,000 prize, which has catapulted forward the careers of previous winners such as Map Office and Adrian Wong.
Azin Zolfaghari, Density (2021). Mixed media on canvas. 101 x 130 cm. Courtesy the artist and Sovereign Art Foundation.
The Sovereign Art Foundation today announced Iranian artist Azin Zolfaghari the winner of the 2022 Sovereign Asian Art Prize.
Sharing her excitement at receiving the prize Zolfaghari said, 'it is an important and noteworthy moment for me as I have not exhibited outside of Iran before. I am thrilled that the message of my work has resonated with the judging panel.'
Zolfaghari's winning work is a hyperrealist painting of a bleak apartment facade, entitled Density (2021). The works explores the complex and fluid definition of 'House'.
Other notable works include: the book burning installation The Book of Ashes (2020) by Hong Kong artist Chris Cheung (aka h0nh1m); the portrait Like (2021) by Chinese artist Xue Ruozhe, in which a 'thumbs up' intrudes too close to the sitter's eye; and Chinese artist Zhang Zhao Ying's Myth Party (2020), a painting that depicts a neoclassical interior audaciously interrupted with abstract elements.
The Sovereign Art Foundation also announced Faezeh Baharloo the winner of the Vogue Hong Kong Women's Art Prize of US $5,000, which is awarded to the top female finalist.
Zolfaghari and Baharloo's wins follow an extensive nomination and selection process. A group of 76 arts professionals from across the Asia Pacific region nominated 278 artists for this year's prize. That number was whittled down to 30 finalists from 16 countries and territories by a panel of judges.
The judges include: writer, curator, and museum director, David Elliott; artist, curator, and actress, Karena Lam; Senior Curator, Digital and Heritage at Tai Kwun, Ying Kwok; Museum Director of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Maria Mok; and last year's winner Li Binyuan, who told Ocula Magazine how he fell from a waterfall and broke four bones shortly before his win was announced.
'When judging this year's entries, as always, I've looked for good, non-flashy work powered by a sense of honesty and necessity,' commented Chair Judge David Elliott.
'In some of these works I can sense a feeling of urgency—a critique of our times that on occasion approaches emotions of disgust and horror but never despair. In this realisation, art has an important role to play in culture at large,' he said.
Works by this year's finalists will be presented at Art Central in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 26 to 29 May. Visitors are invited to vote for their favourite artist to win the US $1,000 Public Vote Prize. They can also purchase the works, with funds split between the artists and charitable programmes for disadvantaged children.
Howard Bilton, Founder and Chairman of SAF, said that the Covid-19 pandemic amplified the huge wealth disparity that exists in Hong Kong, increasing poverty, stress, anxiety and depression.
'We hope that our generous supporters will once again help us raise enough to make a difference in their lives,' he said.
Previous winners of the Sovereign Asian Art Prize include Pakistan's Ahmed Javed for his Mughal miniature-style painting Imran Qureshi Studio in 2019 and Australia's Alex Seton for his marble outboard motor in 2020. —[O]