Unique regional art competition Nordic and Baltic Young Artist Award 2020 announced the winners this week. From a pool of almost 300 artworks, the Grand Prix was awarded to Latvian artist Kristine Krauze-Slucka. The competition also recognised the best Young Painter and presented the traditional Public Choice award.

The winner of the Grand PrixKristine Krauze-Slucka, completed her Master’s degree at the Art Academy of Latvia with mixed media installation Orgatopia. The author created a video projection and six installations of biomorphic, kinetic hyperobjects, combining modified plants with other inorganic materials and electronic solutions. The winner of the Grand Prix, selected by the international jury, will be awarded 2000 euros and the opportunity to showcase her work at Tallinn Biennial in summer 2022. In addition, she will receive an invitation to attend an art residency at Viinistu Art Harbour.

According to the member of the jury Anne Klontz from Konstfack, Sweden’s largest university for Arts, Crafts and Design, the competition featured an impressive selection of nominees who demonstrated a diversity of creative practices. “Most importantly, I was struck by the unique sensitivity and awareness towards global issues that was constantly present. I found this sensitivity in Kristine Krauze Slucka’s work, but what separates her from the other nominees is that she examines time and the existence of life beyond the human, providing a speculative narrative on a possible future—a future in which the environment is all the more precious,” she notes.

In addition to the Grand Prix,  the international jury presented the Young Painter Award to Latvian artist Laura Vela, who graduated from the Art Academy of Latvia last year, for her work Time.Identity, which comprised 144 paintings as objects combined in a multimedia installation, showing the uncertainty and abstraction of time and memories. The winner of the Young Painter Award will receive a monetary prize of 1000 euros. 

According to Andra Orn, the lead organiser of the competition, this year’s competition was exceptional. “Despite the confusing circumstances, participation in the 2020 competition was high and the works submitted were interesting, mostly reflecting a broader view of society and our relationship with the environment,” Orn comments, adding that there were several obstacles in organising the competition.

“Many academies were forced to employ distance studies, graduation exhibitions were postponed, the jury could not travel to see the artworks and we did not know until the last moment whether the submitted works were completed or whether we needed to accept works still in progress. Now, while announcing the winners, we are happy to say that everything fell into place and there were no discounts to this year’s competition,” continued Orn.  

This year’s Public Choice Award, along with a prize of 500 euros, went to Lithuanian artist Akvilė Malukienė for her artwork Flowers. Her artwork reflects the dependence of beauty on the dimension of time, the experience of beauty through its finality and the illusion of eternity. Public voting took place from 9-20 December on the competition’s website, with almost 600 people choosing their favourites.

The 2020 Nordic & Baltic Young Artist Award competition featured 77 young artists, including 14 graduates from Estonia, 17 from Finland, 15 from Latvia and 31 from Lithuania, who submitted close to 300 entries. 

The international jury of the competition comprised Anne Klontz (USA/Sweden Konstfack), Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger (Helsinki Uniarts), Anni Anttonen (Helsinki Uniarts), Pire Sova (Estonian Academy of Arts), Andra Orn (Nordic Baltic Art Center NOBA), Andris Vitolinš (Art Academy of Latvia), Marija Marcelionytė-Paliukė (Vilnius Art Academy).

The Nordic & Baltic Young Artist Award is a unique competition in the region’s art scene aimed at boosting the professional activity of young artists and providing art enthusiasts with a unified and holistic opportunity to discover talent from nearby countries. The competition’s website provides an overview of current trends in the art scene. In addition to photos of the artworks you can find information about the artists and the background stories of the works. The competition is organised by the Nordic Baltic Art Center NOBA with the art universities in the Baltic & Nordic region.