Singaporean artist Ho Tzu Nyen bags $60,000 APB Foundation Signature Art Prize

The Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize has been awarded to a Singaporean artist for the second time.

At a ceremony on Thursday evening at the Singapore Art Museum, it was announced that the winner of the $60,000 grand prize was home-grown artist and film-maker Ho Tzu Nyen.

The winner of the triennial prize's first edition in 2008 was local sculptor Yeo Chee Kiong, for his site-specific mixed-media installation, A Day Without A Tree.

Ho, 38, picked up the award for his video installation work Pythagoras, which explores the impact of a disembodied voice, and also features automated curtains, lights and fans.

The jury panel, which includes director of the Singapore Art Museum Dr. Susie Lingham, praised the "extremely compelling work that draws the viewer into an overwhelming and immersive environment".

They added that it "picks up on the anxiety of living and evokes an almost visceral reaction in its viewers, making us feel uncertain and anxious and in doing so becomes a work that truly captures a contemporary moment".

Ho did not attend the prize ceremony, as he is in Berlin for a year-long artist's residency which began last July.

Speaking to The Straits Times over the phone, he said that the win was a big encouragement. "Although the prize is for me as an individual artist, most of my works are the result of a team effort. This is validation for both myself, and the people I work with."

Although Ho has not yet planned how he will spend the bulk of the money, he knows what his first purchases will be: "My first thought was that I can now check out some books in my Amazon cart, and my other plan was to buy a pair of gloves, as my old pair is disintegrating and it's really cold here in Berlin."

In a speech at the ceremony, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong congratulated the two local nominees - the other Singaporean on the shortlist was Zhao Renhui - and said that he is "glad that the contemporary art scene in Singapore is steadily developing and growing".

"There is tremendous artistic talent in Singapore, and we're proud of all our artists and curators," he added. "Through them, we can continue to make great art that is relevant and appealing to Singaporeans."

The two Jurors' Choice Award winners were Chinese artist Liu Jian Hua and Indonesian artist Melati Suryodarmo. They won $15,000 each. The People's Choice Award, worth $10,000, went to Taiwan's Yao Jui-Chung.