2014.05.28 Wed, by
Art Prize Gala: The 8th AAC Art China Awards for the Most Influential

On the evening of May 23, the ACC Awards Art China for the Most Influential held its award ceremony in Cining Palace (“Palace of Benevolent Tranquility”) within the Forbidden City in Beijing. The winners of the 13 annual awards for the most influential figures in 2013 were announced, as follows:

Bao Xianlun, the Award for Calligrapher; Jin Shangyi, the Lifetime Achievement Award (Jin is the former president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts [CAFA] in Beijing); BMW, the Art Plus Award (an award for art sponsors); Xin Dongwang, the Special Contribution Award (deceased early this year); Liu Qinghe, the Award for Ink Artists; Su Xinping, the Award for Oil Painters (Su is also the director of the printmaking department at CAFA); “Autonomous Regions”, the Award for Exhibitions (curated by the renowned international Chinese curator Hou Hanru at the Guangdong Times Museum); Li Xu, the Award for Curators (Li is the curator at the Power Station of Art, Shanghai); Hsieh Teh-Ching, the Award for Installation and Multi-Media (a long-time practitioner of performance art who recently returned to the spotlight with the retrospective at UCCA last year); Yuanhua Quanji [“The Complete Collection of Yuan Paintings”], the Award for Art Publication; Shi Hui, the Award for Sculptural Artists (the wife of Xu Jiang, the president of the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou; also a professor at that institution); Sun Xun, the Award for Young Artists; Wang Guofeng, the Award for Photographic Arts.

The award ceremony was certainly resplendent. Aside from the fact that it was held in the palace, the organizers also invited Yang Lan as the master of ceremony, while Zhu Qingsheng, the professor at Peking University, chaired the jury this time. Other jury members included Feng Boyi, Lu Peng, Karen Smith, and Wang Huangsheng, all influential figures in the Chinese art world.

The stated mission of the AAC is “to objectively record the trajectories in the development of Chinese art, to offer praise for outstanding artists, art organizations and institutions, to encourage people within the field of art, to advance the academic spirit, to strengthen the exchanges within the arts, and to further Chinese art.”

The AAC is now already in its eighth year, yet outsiders seem to have always debated the AAC’s critical criteria. However, a charitable view is that each award category has its own specific standards which cannot help but be in conflict with the standards of other categories. Meanwhile, the awards in the AAC have not been stable in number or in name; historically, the award categories have increased in number from six in 2006 to thirteen this year. From the 2009 iteration onwards, they have also included the “Special Award” and “Award for Media”. Hence, the original awards were classed as “academic awards” in order to distinguish them more clearly from the others. Indeed, there may even be more awards in the future, in view of other factors to be considered.

In contrast to previous editions, this year’s AAC sees a great increase in the proportion of winners from official institutions. Winners mainly come or have graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing or the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, two of the most renowned art schools in China. Aside from such official standards, the awards were highly influenced by media exposure, such as with Hsieh Teh-Ching and Xin Dongwang. It is thus difficult to ascertain whether such “influence” occurs in reality and in art history, or just within the media environment this year. In sum, the impression gleaned is that with these awards, these two factors have merged into one.

Guests awaiting entry to the opening ceremony.

Ten artists taking a group photograph

Prof. Zhu Qingsheng chaired the jury this year

Jin Shangyi, the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award