ART IS THE ANSWER!
On 21 May 2018, the artists Sven Augustijnen, Koenraad Dedobbeleer, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys and Gabriel Kuri informed the organisers of the BelgianArtPrize of their decision to collectively withdraw from the 2019 BelgianArtPrize. As previously indicated in their statement, the artists are acting in response to the publication of an open letter and a petition that was launched on 10 May. The open letter raised questions about the uniformity of the selection of finalists for the 2019 BelgianArtPrize. By withdrawing, the artists hope that the very essence of the prize, namely to support and highlight the importance of art, will once more be brought to the fore.
The organisers of the prize respect and endorse the values expressed in the open letter. They too are against all forms of discrimination and in favour of encouraging a widespread debate on the social, social-political and/or cultural issues in our society.
The not-for-profit association De Jonge Belgische Schilderkunst/La Jeune Peinture Belge understands the artists’ position, but regrets their decision nonetheless. The prevailing societal debate is independent of the intrinsic artistic value of their work.
The jury stresses that it stands by its decision to select these four artists.
During their deliberations, the jury members examined the career and works of the selected artists. They were not asked to apply quotas, to respect male/female or language ratios, or take nationality or other non-artistic aspects into account.
The association also endorses the jury’s decision and how it arrived at this decision, in a professional and well-considered manner.
Consequently, the organisers of the BelgianArtPrize have decided not to award the prize in 2019. They regret that the artists are unable to work serenely due to the current pressure of a social debate that does not target them directly, but of which they are nonetheless the victims. “Victims” in the sense that they are prevented from creating, exhibiting and earning national and international recognition for their new work. The organisers of the BelgianArtPrize, together with the jury and artists, are currently developing a statement that focuses on what really matters, namely art, artistic work, freedom of speech and freedom of thought.
What is the BelgianArtPrize?
The BelgianArtPrize was created to support talented, trendsetting artists, who live and work in Belgium, and to help raise their profile, on the national and international stage. It aims to provide a snapshot of the Belgian art scene, whilst showcasing and supporting it.
The BelgianArtPrize stemmed from the historic Prijs van de Jonge Belgische Schilderkunst/Prix de la Jeune Peinture Belge (Crowet Prize). Since its inception, the prize has evolved. Whereas it was originally awarded to young painters, since 2016 the BelgianArtPrize has developed into a mid-career prize for artists working in broader artistic disciplines.
In 2017, the jury of the new BelgianArtPrize selected Otobong Nkanga, Maarten Vanden Eynde, Denicolaï&Provoost and Edith Dekyndt as finalists with Otobong Nkanga winning the 2017 BelgianArtPrize and Maarten Vanden Eynde awarded the 2017 ING Public Prize.
Selection procedure 2019 BelgianArtPrize
An extremely diverse panel of art experts was invited to each select five artists. The longlist contained the names of approximately forty artists, who had the most votes. The jury then selected four finalists from this list, namely one woman and three men. The female artist refused her nomination prior to the publication of the names of the laureates, a fact that resulted in the current list. The group of experts and the jury was made up of a balanced group of people.
The members of the executive committee of the not-for-profit association La Jeune Peinture Belge/De Jonge Belgische Schilderkunst, the members of the jury of the 2019 BelgianArtPrize, the artists who were nominated for the 2019 BelgianArtPrize.