On Thursday February 8, at House of Vans in central London, the first winners of a new art prize will be announced. The firm behind it, Rise Art, is an ambitious online platform for the sale of new works of art, mostly by emerging artists. Founded in 2011 by Scott Phillips and Marcos Steverlynck, the company has grown on the back of a rapidly expanding online art market, projected (by art insurers Hiscox) to be worth more than $9.5bn by 2020. Rise Art prides itself on the international reach of its team of advisers, who scout out talent across the globe, and on the opportunity it offers prospective buyers to rent works before they buy. Evangelical about opening the art world to new collectors, it is also committed to launching new stars.
Its latest initiative is the £10,000 Rise Art Prize, launched last October. Regional judges – including Scottish sculptor Bruce McLean, founder of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Touria El Glaoui and Joe Kennedy, the co-founder of gallery Unit London – reviewed over 16,000 artists and scrutinised 2,300 direct submissions, producing a shortlist of 25. Categories include street art, photography, drawing, screen printing, painting and sculpture, with finalists selected from the UK, the rest of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the Americas and Australasia/Asia.
Highlights among the finalists include British artist Tom Waugh’s stone-carved sculpture of a dented petrol can (£2,700); Vikram Kushwah’s surreal narrative photographs The Twins & the Green Car (from £1,100); collage and mixed-media works (from £60) by Denmark-based Australian artist Kareem Rizk; the compelling black and white staged photographs of South African Lebohang Kganye (prints from £2,678); and the quiet but intense paintings (from £1,971) of figures in interiors by US-based Japanese artist Hiroshi Sato.
A high-profile judging committee, including fashion photographer David Bailey, Turner-nominated artist Fiona Banner and Sarah Martin, head of exhibitions at Turner Contemporary, face the difficult task of choosing the Global and UK Artists of the Year.