Brazilian artist Antonio Társis wins the VIA Arts Prize 2019

Fruit boxes from London street markets and a comment on immigration and globalisation are the source of inspiration for this year’s VIA Arts Prize winner.

Antonio Társis has won the prestigious VIA Arts Prize 2019, sponsored by Itaú. The Brazilian artist’s work, a collage entitled Coloured Export, uses remnants of fruit boxes collected from London street markets in Dalston, Whitechapel and Peckham.

The VIA Arts Prize is an annual award in London, hosted by the Embassy of Brazil, and seeks to deepen cultural awareness of Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese arts and cultures in the UK.

The Brazilian-born Társis extracts fragments, colours and information printed on banana, orange, mango and lemon fruit boxes to develop these abstract and minimalist compositions using a paper collage technique. The boxes arrive in London in large containers and ships, exported from countries including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Venezuela, Egypt, Uganda, India and Bangladesh. Despite being created as collage, the artist refers to painting and the possibilities offered by colour, using the painterly aspect to address topical issues.

As part of the self-taught artist’s creative and research process, Társis travelled around London, recycling materials of all kinds, reproducing and recontextualizing compositions such as photographs, collages and installations.


VIA Arts Prize winner Antonio Társis pictured with his winning piece titled Coloured Export.

Társis (b. 1995 in Salvador, Bahia) attended the Free Courses of the Museum of Modern Art, Bahia, 2015, and Parque Lage School of Visual Arts, RJ. 2017. He exhibited at Art Rio and received the 5th EDP Award of the Tomie Ohtake Institute, SP, 2016 and attended the conference Echoes Goethe-Institut, Berlin in 2019. He developed visual research during nine months in London about the Gold Cycle in Brazil and Relations with England and has received the Akademie Schloss solitude fellowship for 2020 in Stuttgart, Germany.

Társis receives £5,000 and a solo show at the Embassy of Brazil alongside the 2020 edition of VIA.

Alexandre Canonico (b. 1974 in Brazil) was named as this year’s runner up with his sculpture 3 Stops, White Board and Strap.

The work from the RA exhibitor enters into a dialogue with the legacy of constructive art in Brazil that characterises Concrete and Neoconcrete art, with which it shares geometric abstraction, form and an apparent suppression of narrative content. The work is created from readymade industrial materials, while Concrete and Neoconcrete artists, although influenced by the surge of industrialisation of the 1940s and 1950s, worked with traditional mediums such as painting and sculpture.

The title 3 Stops White Board and Strap is a straightforward description of the materials and structure presented in the work, but the artist’s directness is not reflected in the piece, whose status constantly oscillates between drawing and sculpture, figurative and abstract.


Alexandre Canonico was named as this year’s runner up with his sculpture 3 Stops, White Board and Strap.

The artist says his work is influenced by the principles of architectural language and the legacy of early 20th century’s geometrical abstraction. The drawings and sculptures are characterised by experimental methods that highlight the transition between spatial representation and physical expression of the objects. The materials used are industrialised and widely available – steel pipe, rubber, MDF, wood, washers, screws and nails for example. Formally the works have a simple resolution and an economy of gestures that operate in the interaction between the parts and/ or materials that constitute the piece.

Canonico was born in Pirassununga, Brazil 1974. His CV includes the postgraduate Programme, Royal Academy Schools, London: 2017-2020 Degree in Architecture and Town Planning at Faculdade de Belas Artes de São Paulo, 1999 Recent Shows “Buraco” Galeria Marilias Razuk – SP, Brazil (solo) 2019 “Standstill” Kubik Gallery – Porto, Portugal (duo with Paul Barlow), 2019 “Premiums Interim Projects 2019” Royal Academy of Arts – London, UK (group) “Serpent and Shadow” Royal Academy of Arts, curated by Martin Westwood – London, UK 2018.

The Judge’s Special Commendation has been awarded to Estabrak Al-Ansari for her work Viver from her body of work Brazilians Under Water The artist aims to make visible hidden and submerged cultural discourses within our world via the physical matter of water. Brazilian currents are often moody, with its waters vastly changing from region to region. The artist’s work explores the relationship between the body and oneself, poking at questions relevant to our existence, and are often fueled by the concepts of existing in places in which humans cannot exist in for long periods of time.

Al-Ansari has been named one of ‘five incredible underwater artists’ by BBC’s ‘Pursuit of Beauty: Art Beneath the Waves’ podcast, BBC Radio 2018. Previous works have been showcased in such places as New York, Dubai and Berlin, along the way exhibiting at Royal Academy of Arts, & TATE Britain, London, UK. Al-Ansari is based in London. She is originally from Iraq, born in Iran and raised in London, after coming to the UK with her family as a child refugee.

All of the shortlisted works from the VIA Arts Prize will be on display in London at the Embassy of Brazil’s Sala Brasil until Wednesday 11th December 2019. The exhibition is free to visit from Monday to Friday between 10am and 6pm.