Japanese art collective wins 2015 Prudential Eye Awards

Japanese art collective ChimPom were named the overall winner, or Overall Best Emerging Artist, at the 2015 Prudential Eye Awards for Contemporary Asian Art. The collective walked away with US$50,000 (S$66,880) and the opportunity to exhibit at London's prestigious Saatchi Gallery later this year.

This was announced on Tuesday night at Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands, in a ceremony officiated by the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong. The event is part of the blockbuster Singapore Art Week.

ChimPom also won Best Emerging Artist in the Digital/Video category, one of the 13 award categories this year.

Now in its second year, the Prudential Eye Awards has been rapidly gaining traction in the region. Not only does it recognise the best emerging artists working with various mediums including drawing, installation, painting, photography and sculpture, it also shines the spotlight on leading art institutions as well as exhibitions.

South Korea was honoured with an Award for Visual Culture, which was collected in person by K-pop singer Top of the group Big Bang.

Other key winners announced at the awards were Singapore's Future Perfect as the Best Gallery Supporting Emerging Asian Contemporary Art. A touring exhibition which made its final stop last year at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, No Country: Contemporary Art For South And South-east Asia, won for Best Exhibition of Asian Contemporary Art. The exhibition, which was part of the the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, was widely hailed for showcasing not just the vitality of art practices but also the dynamism of culture in the broader Asian region.

One of the judges Niru Ratnam, director of the Prudential Eye Programme - a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting and nurturing Asian artists - said ChimPom's work "bucks tradition, transcends national boundaries and is relevant both in Asia and beyond".

The awards are founded by British-Italian art lovers David and Serenella Ciclitira, in partnership with insurance firm Prudential and Saatchi Gallery.

ChimPom came together in 2005, when the six members of the collective were in their 20s, and have been getting international attention with performances made in response to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster. The members are Ushiro Ryuta, Hayashi Yasutaka, Ellie, Okada Masatake, Inaoka Motumo and Mizuno Toshinori. Their work is known for its strong underlying messages about Japanese society and elements of wit, humour and melancholy.

Indian artist Mithu Sen, 43, won in the category of Best Emerging Artist Using Drawing. Singapore's Donna Ong, 37, won in the Installation category. Sherman Ong, 43, who divides his time between Singapore and Malaysia, won the award in the Photography category, while Indonesia's Christine Ay Tjoe, 41, won in the Painting category.

Contemporary Chinese artist Gu Wenda was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Asian Contemporary Art. A prominent name in the art world, he is known for his innovative use of materials such as hair, while drawing on Chinese cultural traditions.

Over 500 nominees submitted their works to a judging panel of seven international art professionals. An exhibition of all the nominees' works runs at the ArtScience Museum until March 31.

Last year, Australian artist Ben Quilty was the overall winner of the inaugural Prudential Eye Awards, also held here.

deepikas@sph.com.sg