The 21st Taishin Arts Award Announces Three Major Award Winners

The Taishin Arts Award, Taiwan’s prestigious contemporary art award, announced the winners of the 21st edition’s three major awards on 27 May. Curator TAKAMORI Nobuo, who has spent time studying the culture of the Global South, was awarded the Visual Arts Award with The Oceans and the Interpreters.

LEE Chen-Wei, who has been nominated four times in seven years, and her husband, choreographer VAKULYA Zoltán, brought home the Performing Arts Award with Burnt [the eternal long now]. TANG Jo-Hung won the Grand Prize with As You Sleep Worry-Free – From Pandemic to War: About disaster crisis like a celebration in one or two different cook methods, becoming the first artist in the award’s history to win the Grand Prize with a two-dimensional painting. 

The final selection committee was made up of experts from Taiwan and abroad. Chaired by artist Yuki Pan, it included art historian TSENG Shao-Chien, theater critic WU Sih-Fong, art consultant CHOW Ling-Chih and three international jurors, German performing arts curator, Dieter Jaenicke, senior curator of the Yokohama Museum of Art, Eriko Kimura, and the director of the Hong Kong Art School, Louis Yu. After three days of extensive discussions, the winners of the three major awards, with a total prize money of NT $3.5m, were finally selected.

Visual Arts Award (NT $1m prize money): 

TAKAMORI Nobuo, The Oceans and the Interpreters

Performing Arts Award (NT $1m prize money): 

LEE\VAKULYA, Burnt [the eternal long now] – 2022 Artquake In Autumn

Grand Prize (NT $1.5m prize money): 

TANG Jo-Hung, TANG Jo-Hung: As You Sleep Worry-Free – From Pandemic to War: About disaster crisis like a celebration in one or two different cook methods

The Oceans and the Interpreter, which was the recipient of the Visual Arts Award, is a research-based exhibition on view at both Hong-gah Museum and Solid Art. The curator TAKAMORI Nobuo invited over 20 artists from Africa and Asia to not only introduce African and Caribbean art to an Asian audience, but to also explore the aspects of politics, culture and national identity in a regional exchange through the featured works. Regarding the work, the jury gave the following comments:

“TAKAMORI Nobuo and his team of artists are opening the artistic horizon to interconnections between Taiwan and Africa, finding relationships and common interests in the most diverse cultural identities. The Oceans and the Interpreters are based on his personal interest and long-term research on different cultures in Taiwan and the Global South. The exhibition is not a final result of his research, but rather just one more step in an ongoing artistic discovery process. We believe that TAKAMORI Nobuo has a very sincere interest and respectful view on the diversity of artistic and cultural expressions, also considering the different conditions under which artists work in different societies. With this award we hope to encourage the further development of his research and artistic statements and even reach out to other continents.”

The Performing Arts Award went to Burnt [the eternal long now], co-choreographed by LEE Chen-Wei and VAKULYA Zoltán for the 2022 Artquake In Autumn festival, hosted by the National Theater and Concert Hall. In this work, three dancers constitute a metaphor for a society to explore the sensitive, fragile mental state of contemporary people. The jury made the following comments about this work: 

“In a concise and powerful manner with minimalist technique and movement, choreographers LEE and VAKULYA recreate the drained mental and physical state of one confronted with the exhaustion and emptiness of today’s world. Through refined body movements, we see repetitive cycles of separation and reunion between individuals and collectives, and intertwined yet fragmented arrangements. A hysterical energy with which to explore the body structure is generated and organised into a force that oscillates between mechanical and organic. The choreographers boldly face the burnout state and transform negative mental and physical signs into a unique body language, aptly conveying a bolstering and collaborating relationship. The dance provides an imaginative kinetic space where we may attain the power of emancipation through a subdued inner self.”

The Grand Prize was awarded to TANG Jo-Hung for his TANG Jo-Hung: As You Sleep Worry-Free —From Pandemic to War: About disaster crisis like a celebration in one or two different cook methods. Exhibited at Mind Set Art Center, the exhibition theme reflects the changes of the artist’s lifestyle and creative state of mind in the past few years during the pandemic. The relaxed, carefree atmosphere in the paintings humorously satirises the treacherous international situations, both commenting on and concluding this collective experience of the contemporary society in a unique way. The jury gave the following comments on this work:

“TANG Jo-hung, through his accomplished artistic expressions, offers astute insights into the distance between disasters and the daily life of the layperson.His unique and humorous aesthetic politics turn these banal moments into a seemingly absurd play. Amidst the pandemic and wars, the once-normal life suddenly disappeared and people around the globe are forced to face this situation together. The artist deploys a deft painting language and subtle narration together with free-flowing and chaotic strokes in scenes interwoven with both fantasy and reality, juxtaposing delightful and gloomy ambiences, and overlapping vibrant and dreary palettes. These works resonate with the inherent anxiety and fear that people are trying to evade and the concerns for the times we live in, which are indeed the core responsibilities of contemporary art. It is the jury’s wish that many years from now, as people look back on this edition of the Taishin Arts Award, they would recognise the joy and tribulations of this era through TANG’s work.”

In terms of the creative origin or creative process, the three award-winning works have hinted at the individual state of mind, interpersonal interactions and the collective physical and mental state under the impact of the pandemic. During the long periods of pandemic-induced home confinement, TANG Jo-Hung and LEE Chen-Wei both developed new artistic vocabularies derived from the changes of reality in relation to self-reflection on the body and mind as well as interactions between family members. TAKAMORI Nobuo’s overseas curatorial and research projects were disrupted by the pandemic, making international exchange impossible. However, he was able to extend new dialogues and connections in Taiwan, which eventually presented a fresh curatorial opportunity. 

In his speech, TAKAMORI Nobuo acknowledged that the award was the best gift in his over a decade-long curatorial career, and he thanked the jury of the Taishin Arts Award for recognising the art of “curating”. LEE Che-Wei said that choreography can be extremely exhausting and every choreography feels like it’s taken away some years of her remaining life. Drawing inspiration from her own experience of being burnt out and socially exhausted, she used the body that she is most familiar with to convey the value of physical and mental health. TANG Jo-Hung was surprised to find himself winning the Grand Prize. He never thought that he could come onto the stage of the Taishin Arts Award with painting, and hopes that this success will encourage his fellow painters. 

Yuki Pan, the chair of the final selection committee and an artist herself, said that “seeing the fearlessness of all of you on the paths you have created by yourselves, unafraid of hardship and driven by the love and devotion for art, has been the most moving thing for us. Whether being awarded or not, just embrace who you are and the pure innocence to follow your path, and do not give up on the next chance.” Her remarks gave the artists in the ceremony infinite blessing and encouragement.

To view the livestreaming of the award ceremony, visit the webpage of the 21st Taishin Arts Award on the website of the Taishin Bank Foundation for Arts and Culture, which includes comprehensive information of all the finalists and award-winning works.

Livestreaming of the 21st Taishin Arts Award Ceremony:

The 21st Taishin Arts Award website: