Cassio Markowski wins Sovereign Portuguese Art Prize

The Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF) announced on 28 November that Portuguese artist Cassio Markowski had been named as the winner of the 2023 Sovereign Portuguese Art Prize and recipient of €25,000. His winning artwork is titled Conselhos para meu eu quando jovem (‘Advice to my younger self’).

This is the second edition of the Prize, which celebrates the practices of leading contemporary artists living in Portugal and its diaspora. Born in Brazil, Markowski has a multimedia practice that uses archives, image banks and materials to create works investigate family relationships, their influences and contradictions, within the cultural construction of Brazil.

“I feel very happy and excited to receive this important and respected award that crowns work that I began in these lands eight years ago,” said Markowski.

“Firstly, I want to thank my partner Aga Markowska and my son Alex for the moments in which I left them to dedicate myself to my craft and, as an immigrant artist who chose this country in which to live, I thank my family, the friends I left in Brazil and the Portuguese friends and many other immigrants who, like me, chose these lands to love.

“I would also like to thank my gallery This is Not a White Cube, especially the directors Sónia Ribeiro and Graça Rodrigues for believing in my work. My heart is in celebration,” he added.

Nominations for the Prize were made by a board of 25 independent arts professionals comprising curators, collectors and academics. Nearly 200 entries were received, and 30 artists were then shortlisted by a panel of seven expert judges, which included last year’s Grand Prize-winning artist Jorge Queiroz.

Chairman of the Judges’ Panel, freelance writer, curator and former Founding Director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, David Elliott, said that Markowski uses: “Economy of means but great expression reflecting the colonial influence of Portugal in a positive way.”

The Finalists’ Exhibition, comprising the work of the 30 shortlisted artists, went on display at the Sociedade Nacional de Belas-Artes in Lisbon on 28 November and will remain open to the public until 16 December.

All shortlisted artworks, except the Grand Prize Winner’s work, are now being sold, with prices ranging from €2,500 to €20,000. The proceeds from sales will be split equally between the artists and SAF, where they will be used to fund expressive arts programmes to support the children who need it most in Portugal.

SAF Founder and Sovereign Group Chairman Howard Bilton said: “The prize has twin aims: to showcase the best of Portuguese art and to raise funds to help disadvantaged children in Portugal. Official figures suggest that over 20% of Portugal’s children live in poverty. For those with the added disadvantages of learning difficulties or behavioural problems, we want to help as many as possible using art as therapy and rehabilitation. We have already started art classes for children in Estremoz and we will be expanding our programmes as funds allow.”

Visitors to the Finalists’ Exhibition in Lisbon and anyone viewing online at are also invited to vote for their favourite artwork. The most popular artist will be awarded the Public Vote Prize of €2,000.

The SAF Students’ Prize Portugal 2023 is currently being judged at the same time. This is an annual award championing the importance of art in the education system. Secondary schools across Portugal nominated their best art students to submit artworks online.

A separate judging panel then shortlisted the 30 best art works for the Finalists’ Exhibition, which is being exhibited in parallel with the Sovereign Portuguese Art Prize, showcasing the artists of today alongside the talent of tomorrow. The students’ artworks will also be sold through silent auction at the agreement of each student, with sale proceeds and fundraising income spilt equally between the student and SAF.

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