Winners of the Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize for Asia 2023
By artamour special correspondent
Julius Baer, the leading Swiss wealth management group, recently announced the six winners of the second edition of the Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize for Asia 2023 , including Virag Desai from India, who have pushed the boundaries with advanced digital mediums and tools, including Web3 technologies (which incorporates concepts such as decentralization, blockchain technologies, and token-based economics).
The artists based in India, Hong Kong and Singapore will develop their creative concepts into finished artworks to be exhibited in a Julius Baer showcase in the second half of 2023. Each winner wins USD 10,000 and a place in an exclusive three-month Art and Technology Accelerator programme led by the non-profit organization The MeshMinds Foundation. The accelerator programme is the first of its kind using advancing digital mediums, including Web3 technologies.
The winners included an Indian, Viraag Desai, who won the prize for his proposal titled Endless Mosiac. The other five winners included two artists from Singapore, André Wee and Chan Wan. for their proposals Future Retro Future and City in Aether respectively; and three from Hong Kong – Carla Chan (Traces of Space Beyond); Jamela Law (Scars, Skins, and Styles: Metamorphosis in the Metaverse); and
Natalie Yen ye Wong (Algorithm Actually).
All artists from Asia were invited to submit concept proposals that addressed three specific key themes: Future Cities, Digital Disruption and Sustainability. The winners were selected from the total of 313 submissions by digital artists, incorporating digital tools such as data mapping, 2D and 3D image rendering, AI-generated art, audience interactivity data, inter-reality simulation, and augmented reality. The winning entries were selected by an international jury, including artist Refiq Anadol, artist and curator Shubigi Rao, curator Fu LiaoLiao, Simon Fisher from OCula, art specialist Shivajirao Gaekwar and Theresa McVulloough from the Asian Civilization Museum.
Viraag Desai (India)
"Digital imagery is understandably perceived as being part of a different, synthetic world. The work I create aims to bridge that gap and highlight similarities between the digital and natural," says Viraag Desai, one of the winning artists.
Viraag Desai graduated with a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has participated in artist residencies in India, Spain and Bangladesh, such as the Piramal residency in India and Uronto residency in Bangladesh. As an artist, he has expanded his practice from painting to sculpture, and now technology-based installations. Viraag’s current practice lies in the space between the physical and temporal through procedural design, virtual reality sculpting and 3D printing as recently displayed at The India Story Kolkata in 2022 and India Art Fair Delhi in 2023, both with the gallery, Art Exposure. He sees the prize as a wonderful opportunity to work with other Asian artists.
Viraag Desai's earlier exhibited works
André Wee (Singapore)
"I am passionate about creating works that blend technology with art to discover newer ways to engage my viewers through creative storytelling and imagery," says André Wee, artist.
Singapore-based winner, André Wee, is an experimental illustrator that jumps between both the virtual and physical world when he creates his craft. Aside from putting pencil to paper and pushing digital paint across a virtual canvas, André also works with animated layers hidden within the physical world through augmented reality where he embeds narratives within his illustrations. Originally from Singapore, he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design and is currently based back in Singapore where he started his company, Studio André Wee (SAW).
A selection of André Wee's previous works
Carla Chan (Hong Kong)
"Much like the never-ending development of new technologies, my approach to media art challenges the conventional perception of new media interface with ever-evolving possibilities for artistic expressions," says Carla Chan, artist.
Minimal in style, Carla Chan’s works blend physical and digital elements into a hybrid form of materiality, blurring the boundaries between reality and illusion. Her work focuses on computational processes and new technology that influences an ever-evolving possibility for artistic expression. Carla has earned the Young Artist Award (Media Arts) at HK Arts Development Awards and TOY Berlin Masters Award. Carla has exhibited internationally including HKMoA, ZKM, Tai Kwun, Asia Society, Art Basel and Frieze and her works are part of the M+ Collection.
Carla Chan's works
Chan Wan Kyn (Singapore)
"I want to broaden my exploration by involving diverse perspectives through communal participation, creating co-created art that promotes ownership and accessibility through technology," says Chan Wan Kyn, artist.
Wan Kyn is an artist and engineer from Singapore. He is inspired by the intangible elements of his surroundings, such as negative space, light, and human connection, as well as from exploring familiar and unfamiliar environments. Wan Kyn was part of the pioneer class of the School of the Arts, Singapore (SOTA), and has exhibited his installations at the Singapore Art Museum and iLight Marina Bay. He graduated with MSc in Mechanical Engineering with the goal of melding the arts and STEM fields. Recently, he has exhibited at INSTINC Gallery, SeongSu NFT Festival, and Singapore Art Week's Urban Screens.
Works of Chan Wan Kyn
Jamela Law (Hong Kong)
"I believe it is important for fashion artists to hold multiple identities, from being a toolmaker, trendsetter, educator and game-changer, for us to convey stronger, more empowering narratives, while pushing technological boundaries," says Jamela Law, artist and fashion technologist.
Jamela Law holds a BA(Hons) accredited by Goldsmiths’ College, University of London. Her futuristic output often revolves around themes of Culture, Social Justice and Environment, executed with state-of-the-art technology and self-developed processes. Her notable achievements include the Singapore Fashion Awards 2017 from Nüyou, InkluVision Human Rights Arts Prize 2021 from Justice Centre Hong Kong, and PULSE Award 2021: Art for Life- Sexual Health Matters. Jamela had exhibited at ‘DigiMuse’ under Singapore National Museum in 2018, ‘Future TechStyle’ under The Mills Hong Kong in 2019 and ‘#SGFASHIONNOW’ under Asian Civilizations Museum in 2021.
Jamela Law's recent works
Natalie Yen Ye Wong (Hong Kong)
"As an artist, I find it fascinating to create interactive digital art and observe participants' reactions to auditory and visual stimuli, understanding their unique experiences," says Natalie Yen Ye Wong, a mixed-media artist whose creative practice is divided between her own works in fine art and commercial client projects.
Also known as Papersneakers, Natalie is best known for her project “100 Paper Sneakers” which explored themes of modern consumption, identity and sneaker-culture. Aside from her collaborations with global brands like Nike and Adidas, Natalie has also participated in exhibitions in Hong Kong and London. Currently, Natalie is exploring the creation of more digital works using themes of technology’s impact on today’s culture and interpersonal relationships as the core.
Works of Natalie Yen Ye Wong
“The concepts presented at the Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize were excellent. Several submissions proposed ideas about the collaboration and merging of ‘life and art’, which were interesting to consider. I look forward to seeing where these artists take their ideas,” says Simon Fisher, Co-Founder & Director, Ocula.
"This year’s submissions for the Julius Baer Next Generation Prize demonstrate the younger generation’s profound interest in technology and their willingness to use it as a tool for artistic creation,” says Fu Liaoliao, Independent Curator.
"The concept proposals for the Prize were well thought through and display an innovative approach to the themes of the Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize,” says Theresa McCullough, Principal Curator, Asian Civilisations Museum.
“It was refreshing to witness the unique perspectives of the aspiring artists in the Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize and how they represented the issues relevant to the environment and our urban spaces,” says Shivajirao Gaekwar, Art Specialist.
“The strongest submissions for the Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize stood out for their sureness of purpose, poetic imagination, creative use of live feed datasets, and thoughtful engagement with the audience,” says Shubigi Rao, Contemporary Artist & Curator.
All the six winning artists are enthusiastically looking forward to working on their submission projects over the next few months. As a prize dedicated to the digital arts, Julius Baer needs to be commended for supporting young talent to become the masters in their chosen digital fields in the future.