Rhea Storr and Chris Yuan win Aesthetica Art Prize awards at York Art Gallery

Aesthetica Art Prize main prize winner: Rhea Storr’s A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message

RHEA Storr has won the 2020 Aesthetica Art Prize main prize at York Art Gallery for her work A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message.

The Emerging Prize was awarded to Chris Yuan for Counterfictions at Thursday evening’s award ceremony, hosted by York’s art and culture publication Aesthetica Magazine.

The winners were selected from a shortlist of 18 artists for this annual competition, a first look into new creative talent that showcases works that redefine the parameters of contemporary art, with artists reflecting on the global situation.

“They offer us insight into how we can encourage positive change,” says Aesthetica director Cherie Federico. “The exhibited works explore themes such as race and identity, technology, dataism, surveillance culture, geopolitics and the climate crisis.”

Mad Mauve, from Patty Carroll’s series Anonymous Women – Demise, one of the finalists in the 2020 Aesthetica Art Prize

British artist and filmmaker Rhea Storr’s A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message considers cultural representation, masquerade and the performance of black bodies.

Her winning work is concerned with the ability of 16mm film to speak about black and mixed-race identities, using moments of tension where images break down or are resistive. “Images that deny access – fail to articulate what they represent or don’t tell the whole story – provide significant starting points,” says Rhea, who began her PhD in media and communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, last year.

Through video, fiction, sound, design and performance, British artist Chris Yuan examines the messy web of human construction. His Emerging Prize winner, Counterfictions, constructs alternative realities of ecological collapse after the construction of President Trump’s border wall proposal.

A still from Chris Yuan’s Counterfictions, winner of the 2020 Aesthetica Art Prize Emerging Prize

His film weaves together information from scientific facts and quotes from the president, as well as references to literature and mythology.

The Aesthetica Art Prize provides a platform for practitioners across the world, supporting and enhancing their careers through global recognition and new opportunities.

“Since its establishment 13 years ago, the prize has supported a vast number of artists who have progressed in their careers, gaining funding, residencies and commissions,” says Cherie. “Finalists have been featured in both group and solo exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, The Photographer’s Gallery, V&A and MoMA, among others.”

Soft Takeover, by Andreas Lutz, among the 18 Aesthetica Art Prize finalists

This year’s shortlisted final 18 artists were: Andreas Lutz (Germany); Andres Orozco (USA); Bill Posters (Barnaby Francis) & Daniel Howe (UK); Chris Yuan (UK); Christiane Zschommler (UK); Christopher Stott (Canada); Erik Deerly (USA); Fragmentin (Switzerland); Emmy Yoneda (UK); Geoff Titley (UK); Kenichi Shikata (Japan); Laura Besançon (UK); Natalia Garcia Clark (Mexico); Oliver Canessa (Gibraltar); Patty Carroll (USA); Pernille Spence & Zoë Irvine (UK), Rhea Storr (UK) and Stephanie Potter Corwin (USA).

“The Prize has two layers: one dedicated to supporting artists; the other for presenting ideas to global audiences to initiate change,” says Cherie. “Curating this year’s exhibition was immeasurably satisfying and I’m privileged to have the opportunity to see so much talent, drawing on both personal and universal narratives.”

The Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, featuring work by the winners and shortlisted artists, runs at York Art Gallery until July 5.

A still from BobSink, Pernille Spence and Zoe Irvine’s piece in the Aesthetica Art Prize final

Looking ahead, submissions are open for next year’s Aesthetica Art Prize with a deadline of August 31 2020. To find out more, visit aestheticamagazine.com/art-prize.