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Marikit Santiago receives 2024 La Prairie Art Award

12 March 2024

Two portraits each showing two people at tables that hold a variety of objects

Marikit Santiago A Seat at the Table (Magulang) 2022 (left) and A Seat at the Table (Kapatid)(right), collaborations with Maella Santiago, Santi Mateo Santiago and Sarita Santiago, Art Gallery of New South Wales, La Prairie Art Award 2024 © Marikit Santiago, photos: Garry Trinh, courtesy the artist

Marikit Santiago has been named the recipient of the 2024 La Prairie Art Award, an acquisitive award championing Australian women artists, founded in 2022 and presented by the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Swiss luxury skincare house, La Prairie.

Now in its third year, this prestigious award consists of the acquisition of new work for the Art Gallery’s collection and a residency for the artist in Europe. As part of the residency, Santiago will travel to Switzerland in June 2024 to attend the Art Basel International Art Fair 2024 as a guest of La Prairie.

Western Sydney-based Filipina–Australian artist Santiago was selected by the Art Gallery and La Prairie and her two paintings A Seat at the Table (Magulang) and A Seat at the Table (Kapatid) will enter the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ collection. These tender portraits portray two generations of Santiago’s family – her parents and her sister – with magulang translating to ‘parents’ and kapatid to ‘sibling’ in Tagalog.

A Seat at the Table (Magulang) depicts the artist’s nanay (mother) and tatay (father) at one end of a table laid with lechon (roast pig), banana leaf and a bird of paradise flower. A Seat at the Table (Kapatid) is an inverted portrait of Santiago seated next to her sister at a table laid with narcissus daisies and a python snake, a symbol of temptation and sin. The works also feature marks made by Santiago’s three young children, who are credited as artistic collaborators in much of her work.

Art Gallery senior curator of contemporary Australian art Beatrice Gralton said, ‘Marikit’s paintings probe the artist’s relationship between art and life, career and family, myth and reality. Using oil paint and gold leaf alongside humble materials such as cardboard boxes and markers, Marikit produces rich and detailed compositions, layered with cultural and religious symbolism. Her deeply personal and meticulous practice explores her lived Filipina–Australian experience through the canon of Western art history. These paintings are a love letter to her family, her culture and Australia’.

In response to the news, Santiago said, ‘The La Prairie Art Award is a tangible reward for my parents whose sacrifice and hardship in migrating to Australia provided opportunity and the privileges of my upbringing, which, I firmly believe, allowed me to pursue a career in art while raising a family.

‘It’s fitting that, through the La Prairie Art Award, portraits of migrant parents and their daughters will enter the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales where they will represent the Filipino and migrant communities from Western Sydney. It is a privilege to contribute to the culture of my communities with whom I share all my accomplishments.

‘The international research component of the residency is an unprecedented opportunity for me to learn deeply about art and the historical paintings that influence my work. This award also allows me to demonstrate to my children that excellence will always be recognised and celebrated. I am honoured and excited to share this experience with my children, to whom my practice is dedicated, and with my husband, without whom none of this would be possible.’

Santiago is a three-time Archibald Prize finalist (2016, 2021, 2023) and winner of the 2020 Sir John Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, for a painting of her three children. Recent solo exhibitions include Marikit Santiago: The kingdom, the power at Bendigo Art Gallery, which closed in February 2024. In 2022, she held her first institutional solo exhibition For Us Sinners at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney followed by solo exhibitions, We Eat This Bread, at Fairfield City Museum & Gallery (2022-23) and Museum of Art and Culture Lake Macquarie, yapang (2023).

Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand said, ‘I am thrilled to congratulate Marikit on being named the recipient of the 2024 La Prairie Art Award. Marikit is a compelling and dedicated artist who will no doubt take full advantage of this opportunity to continue to develop creatively. We are delighted to be acquiring two of her paintings for our collection, thanks to the support of La Prairie. We look forward to sharing these works with our visitors over the coming months.’

Santiago is the third recipient of the annual award, which was granted to Sydney-based artist Thea Anamara Perkins in 2023 and Melbourne-based artist Atong Atem in 2022.

‘It is an honour and true privilege to meet and continue La Prairie’s support of the wonderful female artists of Australia,’ says Rosi Fernandez, Managing Director, La Prairie Group Aus/NZ. ‘La Prairie’s founding principles are intrinsically intertwined with the contemporary art world and the contemporary woman of today. We are thrilled to have initiated an Australian award celebrating artists who are uniquely Australian as individuals and through their practice. It has been humbling to watch our previous recipients Atong Atem and Thea Anamara Perkins embrace the La Prairie Art Award and all it offers as they journey to become ambassadors for Australia and Australian arts.’

La Prairie is known worldwide for its support of the arts and in the La Prairie Art Award, the championing of daring women artists. The organisation is a major sponsor of Art Basel Hong Kong, Basel and Miami and West Bund in Shanghai since 2017 and the patron of iconic cultural institutions such as Fondation Beyeler (Switzerland), MoMa Ps1 (US) and Centre Pompidou (France).

La Prairie chief brand officer Laurent Christin said, ‘As an organisation that has always been inspired and deeply engaged in the world of art and culture, we proudly celebrate the third year of the La Prairie Art Award as a platform to support women artists in Australia. This award marks the continued commitment of La Prairie to empower the community of young women artists in the contemporary art world by offering them an opportunity to expand their practice through inspiration and experience during their residency.’

Santiago’s works A Seat at the Table (Magulang) and A Seat at the Table (Kapatid) are on display on as part of the Making Worlds exhibition on lower level 1 of the Art Gallery’s North Building until 28 July 2024.

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