We talk to our illustrious judges, while they are getting ready for short-listing. Today we have talked to Dr Virginie Lerouge Knight, artist and scientist, as well as patron of the Young Masters Lerouge Knight Art Award. This award recognizes artists who explore and embrace cross-cultural awareness through their work. The criteria include artworks that explore cross-cultural themes and issues, including those relating to the artist’s own background and upbringing, as well as the artists who in their practice draw on diverse techniques and media reflecting various cultural influences.
1. Why did you decide to support the Young Masters Art Prize?
I very much support the overall theme of the Young Masters Art Prize centred on the importance of reflecting on and learning from the past, and I have admired the amazing range and quality of artworks that have been submitted previously. Being a French artist who has been living for the last 25 years in China, I wanted to introduce a prize which specifically focuses on cross cultural appreciation, something that I believe is increasingly important in today’s social climate – and again an area in which we can learn from the past.
2. How did the idea of a Young Masters Lerouge Knight Award come to life?
Having visited the Cynthia Corbett Gallery on numerous occasions and bought artworks from a previous winner, I wanted to actively participate in the awards to help to promote emerging artists. After discussion with Cynthia we agreed that a focus on cross-cultural awareness and appreciation was a natural area for me to support, given my interests and background.
3. If you could give your award to any artist of the past, who would that be and why?
I would have given the award not to an artist, but to a Russian patron of the Arts – Sergei Shchukin – for his visionary collection of French Modern Art at the beginning of the 20th century, when artworks by Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Modern masters were criticised by the French art scene and snubbed by Le Louvre at that time. His personal collection of “unpopular “ works was a daring approach, based on personal taste and appreciation of cultural differences and innovative expression.
4. What are you most looking forward to this anniversary year of the Prize?
I am really looking forward to expanding my own artistic understanding through the selected artworks and meeting some of the talented prize winners in person to discuss their perspectives in more detail.