Interview with Aesthetica Art Prize 2016 Panel Judge, Curator Pavel S. Pyś

In the countdown to the Aesthetica Art Prize call for entries deadline on 31 August, we interview 2016 panel judge Pavel S. Pyś, Exhibitions & Displays Curator at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds. Pavel frequently contributes to Frieze, Mousse and ArtReview, was the winner of the inaugural Zabludowicz Collection Curatorial Open and is one of the three curators in residence at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin.

A: As Exhibitions and Displays Curator at the Henry Moore Institute, what tasks does your day-to-day role include?
PP: There’s really no day-to-day standard schedule. Depending on what’s urgent, I could be researching, writing, meeting artists, travelling, negotiating loans, preparing loan documentation, checklists and floor plans, working with my colleagues to manage fabricators and shippers, tracking down artworks and lenders. The Institute has a wonderful Research Library, open to all, so if I’m lucky I might manage to steal some time to spend here reading and thinking.

A: You recently curated Carol Bove / Carlo Scarpa at the Henry Moore Institute. Can you talk about the dynamic generated between these two artists, and how the show shed new light on their practices?
In 2011 we began a conversation with Carol, whom we invited to exhibit at the Institute. During our conversations she became familiar with Scarpa, whose work would have a major influence on her practice in the next four years. We invited Carol to show a selection of works ranging from 2003 through to newly commissioned sculptures, alongside Scarpa’s exhibition furniture, sculptures and architectural prototypes. While Scarpa is predominantly known as an architect, we wanted to highlight his engagement with exhibition display and sculpture. The exhibition forged a conversation between Carol and Scarpa for the first time, emphasising shared concerns with how sculpture is given meaning through display and context.

A: In your opinion, why are awards such as the Aesthetica Art Prize important for emerging and established artists today?
Awards and competitions are important opportunities for artists – they bring new audiences and attention to their work and often provide the chance to focus on a specific facet of their practice. The Aesthetica Art Prize is an excellent opportunity for artists and newly graduating students to gain exposure to a wider audience, as well have their work promoted internationally.

A: In December, the Institute will present the first posthumous display of work and archival material by Christine Kozlov. Why is this show important for the Institute and the rest of the art world?
Christine Kozlov (1945-2005) belongs to a generation of conceptual artists who sought to dematerialise sculpture. With time, this project failed, as so much of conceptual and minimal art persists through objects – discreet works, but also photographs, books and ephemera. During the time that Kozlov made work (roughly between 1966 and 1970), sculpture was not a medium she was overtly concerned with. However, many of her pieces take the form of objects, which explore the possibility of material carrying information, as well as how we perceive and experience space. Bringing together works, archival material, photography and contextual documents, this exhibition explores the relationship between Kozlov’s conceptual concerns, the material she chose to convey these through and her place within sculpture’s history.

A: As a judge for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2016, what will you be looking out for?
Quality, new ideas and an engagement with the space of York Art Gallery, where the 2016 Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition will take place.

The Aesthetica Art Prize 2016 is open for entries until 31 August. The award supports and champions artists working in all media, and prizes include £5,000 courtesy of Hiscox, a place in a group exhibition and editorial coverage in Aesthetica Magazine.

To enter, visit

1. Owen Waterhouse, Möbius 1.00, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.