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Converse Emerging Artists Award: Pio Abad

We speak to one of the finalists of this year's award, a Manila-born artist and RA graduate

After over a thousand entries, the Converse Emerging Artists Award is now closed to submissions. Our judges – practicing artists Jeremy Deller, James Early, Kirsty Ogg and Yuri Pattinson; gallerist Magnus Edensvard; critic Nancy Durrant; and Dazed's Visual Arts Editor Francesca Gavin – have whittled it down to the final four.

First up is Manila-born Pio Abad. Following his undergraduate degree in Painting and Printmaking at the Glasgow School of Art he completed a Master's in Fine Art at London’s Royal Academy. Since then he has shown in numerous group exhibitions and won many highly sought-after awards.

We caught up with him to find out more about his work and how he feels about joining the other three shortlisted artists at their forthcoming group exhibition at a venue in east London's Osborn Street, attached to the Whitechapel Gallery.

The strength of my work comes from the undiscovered connections that I attempt to establish between things, objects and events and the ways these connections are presented

Dazed Digital: What has been your career highlight prior this moment?
Pio Abad: There have been a few highlights this year. I showed my work at the Whitechapel Gallery – my first exhibition in a public gallery – a few days after finishing my MA at the Royal Academy. I also won the Deutsche Bank Art Award for Tele Nobela, a curatorial project I am setting up in Manila. The project will launch next year with an exhibition of Paul Pfeiffer’s video works that I will be co-curating.

DD: Why did you decide to enter the competition?
Pio Abad:
I’ve known about the Converse Emerging Artists Award since the first one and I’ve always been impressed by the selection of artists and the relevance of the work. It’s great to be part of that group.

DD: How does your work differ? What makes it new?
Pio Abad:
The strength of my work comes from the undiscovered connections that I attempt to establish between things, objects and events and the ways these connections are presented. I’m constantly finding new ways of working that are dictated by the stories and links that I want to share. For recent exhibitions, I have designed and printed wallpaper, transformed a mannequin into Bo Derek, framed a pair of Republican Party underwear, hunted for Philippine history on ebay, commissioned an oil painting of Ferdinand Marcos and made imitation Versace scarves.

DD: Can you talk us through the work you'll be producing for the show at Osborn Street?
Pio Abad:
I will be showing a new series of silk scarves, which developed from a broader interest in historical representation. I found the scarf as a common trope in the commemoration of historical events – from those that benignly celebrate the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee to a more contentious series of Hermès scarves that depict the military victories and colonial exploits of France. I was particularly drawn to this idea of using images of a difficult past literally as bodily adornment. I think it opens up a very important discussion of the relationship between luxury and painful episodes of human history and I’m hoping my work can facilitate that dialogue.

Film by Romano Pizzichini

The winner of the first prize will be announced on Wednesday October 24, 2012 at the Whitechapel Gallery. For more information please click HERE