Sovereign launches new and prestigious Art Prize for Portugal

Associação SAF, the Portuguese arm of the Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF), has announced the launch of an award for contemporary artists from Portugal and its diaspora. Set to be the biggest annual art prize in the country, the Sovereign Portuguese Art Prize will celebrate and showcase the work of leading contemporary artists.

Over 200 artists have been nominated for the Prize by a panel of independent art professionals and their submissions are currently being reviewed by an expert judging panel. The 30 shortlisted artists will be announced at the end of February 2022, before the judges complete a second round of judging to determine the Grand Prize winner.

This year’s judging panel features Chinese contemporary artist, documentarian and activist Ai Weiwei, who now lives in Portugal, and Portuguese visual artist Joana Vasconcelos, who is renowned for her monumental sculptures.

They are joined on the panel by Spanish contemporary art curator Vicente Todolí, founding Director of Serralves Contemporary Art Museum in Porto, freelance writer and curator David Elliott, founding Director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Maura Marvão, art consultant and head of Phillips auction house in Portugal and Spain, French curator Phillippe Vergne, current director of the Serralves Contemporary Art Museum, and British writer and art historian Tim Marlow, who is currently the Director and Chief Executive of the Design Museum in London.

The competition will culminate in an exhibition tour of 30 shortlisted artists, starting at Palacio das Artes in Porto (13-30 April 2022), before moving to Sociedade Nacional de Belas-Artes in Lisbon (24 May-18 June) and the Museu Berardo in Estremoz (22 June-15 August), followed by a further exhibition in the Algarve at a venue to be confirmed.

A Grand Prize of €25,000 will be awarded to the finalist whose work receives the highest score from the judging panel. The artist whose work proves the most popular with the public will also be recognised with a Public Vote Prize of €2,000. Public votes will be collected online and at the exhibitions. Full details on Prize schedule, nomination and entry process, list of nominators and terms and conditions are available on the SAF website.

The shortlisted artworks will then be auctioned with the aim of raising significant funds to be split equally between SAF and the participating artists. SAF will use these funds to develop expressive arts programmes aimed at supporting disadvantaged children in Portugal. Through similar projects, including its coveted Sovereign Asian Art Prize, SAF has raised over US$10 million for artists and charitable organisations worldwide.

The Sovereign Art Foundation was founded in 2003 by Howard Bilton, chairman of the Sovereign Group who is now based in Portugal and produces ‘Howard’s Folly’ wines in the Alentejo. “As a new resident of Portugal, I was keen to get involved in the art scene. The obvious way to do this seemed to be to start an art prize, having done so successfully in Asia for the past 18 years and recently launched one in Africa,” he said.

“The reaction from galleries, artists, art professionals and the art community in general has been overwhelmingly positive and we are delighted with the discoveries we have made, showing great depth in the Portuguese art market. This prize will assist both established and newer artistic talent by showing their work to a wider audience whilst raising substantial funds, which we will use to support disadvantaged children throughout Portugal. As a leading arts charity and organiser of the largest art prize in Asia-Pacific, SAF is thrilled to be able bring this expertise to Portugal”.

SAF is delighted that Eon Reality, a world leader in augmented and virtual reality academic and industry training solutions, has recently been confirmed as lead sponsor of both the Sovereign Portuguese Art Prize and the Norval Sovereign African Art Prize. The Howard’s Folly winery is also supporting the Portuguese Art Prize, along with specialist cultural communications agency Sutton Communications.

Professor João Paulo Queiroz, President of the Board of the Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes (SNBA) said of the initiative: “The SNBA is thrilled to take part in this great art prize by the Sovereign Art Foundation. Together we are sure we can accomplish a better society with greater social and cultural awareness, and to present innovative projects regarding visual arts.”

At the same time, SAF will also be hosting the Sovereign Art Foundation Students’ Prize Portugal 2022, an annual award that celebrates the importance of art in the education system and recognises the quality of artworks produced by secondary-school students in Portugal. Associação SAF is partnering with Fundação da Juventude, a non-profit private organisation devoted to the support and development of projects and programmes for the integration of young people in Portugal.

School teachers have been asked to nominate their five most talented students to enter works online. The 30 finalists, as selected by a separate panel of judges, will be exhibited in Porto and Lisbon alongside the work of the Sovereign Portuguese Art Prize finalists, giving visitors a wonderful opportunity to view the works of established professional artists alongside the potential talent of the future.

“We are delighted to be part of the Sovereign Art Foundation Students Prize Portugal and can’t wait to see the works produced by the young artists of this country. We are so excited to see what talented contemporary artists will be shortlisted and exhibited in the beautiful rooms of Palacio das Artes in Porto,” said Carla Mouro, CEO of Fundação da Juventude.

“Fundação da Juventude has been connected with the arts since its foundation. We believe in the potential of the youngsters and have developed many programmes connected with arts. Our headquarters has the name of ‘Palácio das Artes’, so we are very excited with this partnership.”

For more details, please visit:

Contact the Author
Get in Touch

Please contact us if you have any questions or queries and your local representative will be in touch with you as soon as possible.