Sarawak-born wood sculptor shortlisted for top regional art prize


  • Arts
  • Sunday, 29 Mar 2020

Anniketyni’s 'Begarasi #3' (mixed hardwood, 2019), which is on this year’s Sovereign Asian Art prize shortlist. Photos: Anniketyni Madian

Sarawak-born contemporary artist Anniketyni Madian is in the running for the annual Sovereign Asian Art Prize (SAAP), a top regional art prize based in Hong Kong.

The 34-year-old Anniketyni, a UiTM fine art graduate who majored in sculpturing, is the sole Malaysian on the list of 31 finalists. She will be vying for the coveted Grand Prize, which carries the prize of US$30,000 (RM132,000). This is her second time on the SAAP shortlist.

The Kuching-raised artist, who set up her studio in Petaling Jaya in 2009, was previously shortlisted in 2017.

Anniketyni’s sculptures also tell Sarawakian folk tales, especially from her Iban heritage.Anniketyni’s sculptures also tell Sarawakian folk tales, especially from her Iban heritage.

This time, Anniketyni was picked from a number of more than 600 entries from 30 countries. This is the largest number of entries in SAAP’s 16 year history.

“I feel so grateful and honoured to be able to represent Malaysia again this year. I didn’t actually expect to be shortlisted for the second time!” says Anniketyni in a recent interview.

The SAAP, launched in 2003, is organised by Hong Kong charity the Sovereign Art Foundation to recognise mid-career contemporary artists in the region. It is touted to be one of the most prestigious art awards in Asia Pacific, pushing the winning artist to international fame.

Other Malaysian artists who were shortlisted before include Chan Kok Hooi and Hamir Soib.

Anniketyni, a full time artist, submitted a small wooden sculpture named Begarasi #3 which was part of her 2019 Begarasi series from her private collection.

The sculpture, made from mixed hardwood, resembles a flower petal, with patterns you would find on pua kumbu, a traditional patterned ceremonial cloth used by the Iban people.

“Begarasi in Iban Laut language is symbolic of strong pattern, attitude or form. Since my family is half Iban, so I decided to bring my traditional culture into contemporary sculpture.

“As you can see through my sculpture, pattern and flower form is the key of the work too. The pattern is a translation of the pua kumbu and the strong flower form is a representation of myself as a woman sculptor, ” says Anniketyni, adding that her work is about multiculturalism.

A close-up of Anniketyni’s intricate wood craft can be seen in Kayu Betimbau #2 (mixed hardwood and black matte oil colour, 2017).A close-up of Anniketyni’s intricate wood craft can be seen in Kayu Betimbau #2 (mixed hardwood and black matte oil colour, 2017).

Anniketyni previous exhibitions include Awan & Tanah (2019), Marking The Time (2018) and Bejampong (2011).

Besides the grand prize, two additional prizes will be awarded based on public voting. The most voted for artist will receive a US$1,000 (RM4,400) Public Vote Prize while the US$5,000 (RM21,973) Vogue Hong Kong Women’s Art Prize will be awarded to the highest scoring female finalist.

The winner, selected by a panel of five judges, will be announced in May. For now, the ceremony is still scheduled to proceed despite the Covid-19 pandemic forcing many countries to enforce a movement control order.

The panel is led by British writer, curator and museum director David Elliott. The other members of the panel are arts historian and curator Jiyoon Lee, Financial TImes arts editor Jan Dalley, Beijing’s The Central Academy of Fine Arts professor Miao Xiaochun and contemporary Chinese artist Zhou Li.

Anniketyni working on a wooden sculpture at her studio in Ara Damansara in Petaling Jaya.Anniketyni working on a wooden sculpture at her studio in Ara Damansara in Petaling Jaya.

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