3-3-2014 The Premio Combat contemporary art competition, now into its fifth year, was conceived in 2010 by Livornese art enthusiast and curator Paolo Batoni ( Blobart) and already it has become the second most important contemporary art prize in Italy in terms of numbers of participants. It is also an increasingly important event for Livorno, a contemporary city with a wealth of talented local artists that deserves to become a centre of contemporary art in Italy.
The energy and organisation behind the competition is admirable, and one of the really interesting aspects is the excellent Premio Combat website where all the works of art entered can be viewed online, and where it is possible to vote for your favourite work. The site also features a profile of each artist in Italian and English.
Each year Paolo expands and enriches the competition which attracts artists from all over the world. His aim in beginning the project was to create an opportunity for artists to enter their work in a contest based solely on merit. There is no theme to the competition, so a hugely wide variety of work is seen, and this is one of the most exciting aspects of the Combat Prize.
There are five categories of artwork - painting, photography, sculpture and installation, video arts, and graphic design - and all entries are considered by a jury of six experts who make an initial selection of 80 finalists. These works are put together in a collective exhibition which, since 2013, has been divided into three sections in three different venues in Livorno - Villa Mimbelli, the Granai di Villa Mimbelli, and Villa Henderson (natural history museum). This will take place from 21st June to 5th July 2014.
The jury for the 2014 edition features some prominent names in the art world, not least that of Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, one of Italy's most influential collectors of contemporary art and founder of the prominent Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo art foundation in Turin.
The week-long exhibition of the works chosen as finalists culminates with the final judges decisions and the awarding of the prizes: in addition to a winner in each section, there are three artist-in-residence prizes for young artists (under 35), in Berlin, Belgrade and Livorno, an Online Jury Prize based on votes made by visitors to the website, and a Popular Jury Prize based on votes cast by visitors to the exhibition.
There are prizes of 6000 euros for the winners of the Painting and Photography categories, and 4000 euros for the Graphic Arts, Sculpture and Video Arts. The competition is largely self-funded by the 50 euro registration fee, but also receives some funding from the Regione Toscana's Toscana in Contemporanea project. Through this project, Blobart won funding for the resident artist programmes and, new for 2014, the "Première" prize for young (under 35) curators resident in Tuscany who are invited to present an exhibition project for the artists taking part in the Premio Combat Prize. The winning curator will be given the opportunity to hold his or her exhibition at the Sala degli Archi in Livorno's Fortezza Nuova in October.
To complement the ambitious Premio Combat programme, in 2013 Paolo added a further aspect to this Livornese contemporary art event: Start Livorno (2014 programme coming soon), a coordinated event involving contemporary and modern art galleries in Livorno, each of which will inaugurate an exhibition from 27th-29th June 2014.
The closing date for entries to the 2014 edition of the Premio Combat is 19th APRIL (See the website for full details). The 80 finalists will be announced on 18th May, and the winners will be revealed on 5th July, the last day of the exhibition.
So far this year there has been a marked increase in entries from outside Italy, representing 35% of the total, but this situation is likely to change as the closing date draws nearer.
Related articles: Premio Combat 2013