The Sunny Art Centre welcomed its distinguished guests to the opening of the Sunny Art Prize 2017 on a grey and rainy Wednesday evening - a very strong contrast to the interior of the gallery which was filled with confidently coloured walls and a variety of elegant and daring artworks. An impressive and intimate turnout despite the weather.
The Sunny Art Prize, which is an international fine art competition that provides emerging and established artists with the opportunity to showcase their talent to a global audience, aims to display artistic and cultural diversity to the international art scenes of London, Beijing, Guangzhou and Macau.
Inside the gallery, each gaze directs you to a different medium of artwork, from ceramics, to sculpture, painting, jewellery, photography and mixed media. The variety exhibited at the gallery made it a unique evening where artists and guests had the opportunity of exchanging cultural and artistic creativity. A true testimony to what the Sunny Art Centre represents.
Nevertheless, this only made the judges’ decisions more difficult. The 30 shortlisted artworks were anonymously selected by a panel of visual arts professionals, including art academics, art gallery directors, and art critics based in the UK as well as China, from an astonishing 1800 submissions.
Narrowed down to three exceptionally competent and evocative pieces of art were:
First prize winner, photographer JeongKeun Lee, with his work ‘Depaysement11’. The magnificently grand photograph displayed an empty, white, foggy seafront in Korea, framed in light, warm coloured wood. Personally, I tend to find that the art I enjoy is an extension of my personality, something relatable in my life, but I found myself curiously drawn to ‘Depaysement11’. Even though I was surrounded by a crowd of people, all indoors gazing out at the sea, I felt a sense of calm, stillness, and a sense of solitude when in its presence. Not because I embody these traits, it is in fact the opposite of what my life is like in London, but perhaps because I would like to be more like this. It made me realise that the art I was enjoying was what I was missing in my life. The titular term ‘dépaysement’ is a French word for which there is no English equivalent. It describes the distinct sensation one feels when outside of familiar surroundings, in particular one’s home country.
The second prize winner, painter Ziyung Zhang with his work ‘Anonymous’, produced an equally mesmerising piece. A mysterious painting of a naturally aesthetic looking woman, with a stark contrast of a futuristic enigma behind her, hinted towards an unconscious psychological meaning, something I craved to learn more about. It evoked a sense of curiosity.
The third prize winner, a painting called ‘Summer Garden - Zinnias’ by Mal Levittoux was a highly detailed explosion of colours which represented summer perfectly. The time and patience put into this work were evident. Standing before this painting provoked a yearning for those warm days and nights spent in parks, especially on the grey, rainy day that was passing.
Art that evokes emotions, makes you learn something about yourself or makes you curious enough to spend your free time searching for more information about it, is increasingly significant in this modern age where we speed through our routines without thinking. All three winners succeeded in slowing us down and making us reflect.
All in all, the evening was a great success and opportunity for networking. The winners thoroughly deserved their titles, the £6000 prize money, and the opportunity to showcase their work for a month at the Sunny Art Centre as well as its partner galleries Haidian District Art Centre, the Chen Centre for Contemporary Art - both in Beijing -, the AIP Art Centre in Guangzhou, or the Blanc Art Gallery in Macau.