Every year since 1999, a jury of experts from across artistic disciplines selects two artists presented in Art Basel's sector dedicated to emerging artists, Statements, for the prestigious Baloise Art Prize. Pieces from each of the winners’ oeuvres are also purchased by Baloise and donated to the permanent collections of bellwether institutions across Europe, including the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, Hamburger Kunsthalle, mumok Wien, and MUDAM Luxembourg. The annual award, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, has now welcomed Suki Seokyeong Kang and Lawrence Abu Hamdan into its storied portfolio as the winners of the 2018 Baloise Art Prize.
Suki Seokyeong Kang (b. 1977, Seoul) evokes the harmonious power of a quiet balancing act in her mixed-media installations. Retooling vernacular objects and shaping them into sculptures often rooted in traditional Korean music notation and scoring, Kang explores the limits and conditions of coexistence, especially a coexistence grounded by conflicts in space. Her work at Art Basel Statements is presented be One and J.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan (b. 1985, Amman) also explores the experience of tension and division in environments ripe with conflict. His project ‘The Shouting Valley’, presented by mor charpentier, features a new video This Whole Time There Were No Land Mines (2017), which captures families attempting to communicate over the Israeli-Syrian border by shouting and using binoculars; it is paired with 56 m2 (2018), an atmospheric gesture for which Hamdan painted the walls with an acoustically absorbent coating to recreate the sense of loss and distance experienced by those in the valley of Golan Heights.
The winners of the Baloise Art Prize are chosen for the strength and promise of their work, and Baloise outfits each winner with a cash prize of CHF 30,000. However, the prize is one element of the Baloise’s multi-part commitment to developing fresh talent and new perspectives. Their support is holistic: the organization also offers funding for future solo museum exhibitions presenting the work of the winners to nurture artistic growth and development. The galleries in Art Basel’s Statements sector present groundbreaking solo projects by emerging artists; the Baloise Art Prize furnishes its winners with the opportunity to continue pushing the envelope.
Suki Seokyeong Kang and Lawrence Abu Hamdan join a decorated hall of previous Baloise Art Prize winners that includes Turner Prize winner Duncan Campbell (2008), new-media art pioneer Matthew Ritchie (1999), Simon Denny (2012) – who most recently represented New Zealand at the 56th Venice Biennale, and Cathy Wilkes (1999) – who will present a solo exhibition of new work as Great Britain’s representative at the 58th Venice Biennale next year.