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Halima Cassell Wins 2018 Sovereign Asian Art Prize

British Pakistani artist Halima Cassell has been awarded this year’s $30,000 Sovereign Asian Art Prize, Tianhui Huang of ArtAsiaPacific reports. She was honored along with Pakistani artist Muhammad Onaiz Taji, who received the $1,000 Schoeni Prize, which is awarded by popular vote, at a gala dinner in Hong Kong on May 11. 

Recognized for her bronze sculpture Acapella, Cassell is known for creating works with strong geometric elements and recurrent patterns that are often inspired by the repetitive motifs found in Islamic architecture and North African surface design.

Jury chair David Elliott, a British curator and writer who has directed museums in Oxford, Stockholm, Tokyo, and Istanbul, said that “Acapella is an intricate symphony of curves. Carved first in clay, then cast in bronze, its dark density and color evoke […] the impression of a nocturne, a staple of romantic music in the west; but its abstract architecture could also express the rhythms and colors of an Asian raga that, too, [is] often played in the evening.”

Onaiz Taji was selected for his work 25th December, 2016, an ink painting on wasli paper that depicts a crowd of people encircling a group of musicians.

The prize’s jury comprised Alexandra A. Seno, the head of development at Hong Kong’s Asia Art Archive; Fumio Nanjo, the director of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum; Jan Dalley, the arts editor at the Financial Times; and Pakistani artist Rashid Rana.

An exhibition featuring works by the thirty shortlisted artists was staged at H Queen’s from April 26 to May 5. Since the Sovereign Art Foundation is a charitable organization, it auctioned off the works at the awards gala and split the proceeds with the artists. The foundation will use the monies raised by the auction to support programs that serve disadvantaged children.