VIA Arts Prize 2018

The VIA Arts Prize 2018 Exhibition is now open!

The 30 selected artworks from this year’s Call for Entries responded in fascinating and varied ways to the theme ‘Dialogues’, and will be on display in the Sala Brasil of the Embassy of Brazil in London between 14th December and 31st January, alongside a solo exhibition by 2017 VIA Arts Prize winner Susan Phillips entitled ‘Constructed Geometries’. This series of sculptures and prints draw on the iconic Brazilian neo-concrete movement.

The 2018 winner of the VIA Arts Prize is Hugo Brazão, with his large, multi-coloured tapestry ‘HIATO’. It takes inspiration from a 3.9km tunnel connecting two areas of Madeira Island, Portugal, and advocates the creation of links and promotion of dialogues through the occupation of spaces. The piece highlights the importance of embracing complexity and connecting disparate ideas instead of avoiding problematisation, disguising conflicts and postponing the addressing of imminent problems.

The second prize was awarded to Graham Guy-Robinson for his Hélio Oiticica inspired sculpture ‘Social Structures’. In 1965, collaborating with a samba group from the favela, Hélio Oiticica performed his iconic Parangolé. This combined material objects with the moving body, using the actions of making to confront boundaries, reimagine private and public space, and make the marginalised visible. Like Oiticica’s work, Social Structure uses sheet material and the moving body to explore boundaries, visibility, private and public space. It is based on the orange perforated barriers used on construction sites. Made from mirror polished steel and hazard paint, the surfaces of ‘Social Structures’ interact with the surrounding moving bodies and reinvent our perception of space and the materials which represent urban life.

‘Raízes do Brasil’, a striking sculpture by Brazilian artist Sabrina Collares, was named as the jury’s special commendation. Collares’ piece is a 18th-century Baroque dress inspired by a painting of Carlota Joaquina, the Princess of Spain and Queen of Portugal (1785), by the Spanish artist Mariano Salvador Maella. The artist covered the dress in thousands of small pieces of MDF, and made it to scale to fit a 10-year-old child: the same age that Carlota got married to Dom João VI. The dress is attached to the plinth by roots, which represent the conservatism and reactionary ideas which sink into the ground rather than reaching new horizons.

The Prize is generously sponsored by Itaú, and the 1st and 2nd prize winners receive £5,000 and £2,000 respectively. The prize winners were chosen by an impressive jury panel, comprised of seven prolific art practitioners:

  • James Nicholls, managing director of Maddox Gallery
  • Irene Due, curator and head of communications at Acute Art
  • Ting-Tong Chang, artist and winner of VIA Arts Prize 2016
  • Kiki Mazzucchelli, writer and curator
  • Sumantro Ghose, cultural advisor
  • Will Sorrell, managing director of London Design Biennale
  • Paulina Korobkiewicz, artist and gallery director at Bermondsey Project Space

There is also a People’s Choice Award for the visiting public’s favourite artwork. Visitors can vote in situ and results will be revealed at the end of the exhibition.

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The VIA Arts Prize is London’s bespoke visual Ibero-American themed arts competition. It is organised by ACALASP (the Association of Cultural Attachés of Latin America, Spain and Portugal) and is supported by People’s Palace Projects from Queen Mary University of London and Instituto Cervantes.

The VIA Arts Prize held its 2017 edition last November, at the Embassy of Brazil in London. Please view the gallery below for images of the venue, the artists and the prize-winning pieces, which subsequently toured to Maddox Arts in Mayfair for the Maddox Arts Winter Show. The winners from 2016 are also featured in the slideshow.

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The best 30 artworks received in last year’s strongly contested Call for Entries went on display in November 2017. The theme of the 2017 competition was ‘Dialogues with Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese art’, and all of our finalists established fascinating connections with these regional art styles.

The 2017 winner was British artist Susan Philips with her porcelain sculpture entitled ‘no.42-2015’. The simple white sculpture, which draws on planar form and geometric abstraction, is inspired by Latin American Neo Concrete Art. The 1959 manifesto of this movement rejected the concept of the artwork as an ‘object’ and supported the notion that art can only be fully understood through a direct phenomenological approach. Philips looked to the work of Amilcar de Castro and Lygia Clark to explore void space in sculpture and its interaction with the environment through light.

The runner up was Brazilian artist Rafael D’Alo’s analog photograph entitled Belo Monte Incidental number 65. His evocative image features a traditional Amazonian boat, submerged in muddied waters and was taken in the Brazilian town of Altamira on the River Xingu. An area originally populated by indigenous groups, the region has recently experienced an overwhelming migration of workers due to the construction of the Belo Monte dam. D’Alo’s work seeks to analyse the relationship between man versus nature and how the environment is reshaped by the same culture it helps to produce.