Strabag International Artaward, 2023, photo courtesy of the organiser

STRABAG Artaward International 2023 Meet the Winning Artists

The 28th STRABAG Artaward International has just announced the winning artists. The award, which focuses on painting and drawing, is one of the country’s most highly endowed private art prizes. Initially limited to Austrian artists, it expanded in 2009 to include international participants.

The prize consists of a main prize and four recognition awards, totalling €35,000, given annually. For 2021-2023, artists from Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria were invited to participate. Out of more than 700 applications, five artists were selected as winners.

In 2023, Jósefina Alanko, a Polish-Finnish artist, received the main prize. The recognition awards were given to Peter Cvik from Slovakia, Samira Homayouni from Austria/Iran, Liza Libenko from Czech Republic, and Grzegorz Siembida from Poland. 

The esteemed jury comprised professionals from the art world:

Barnabás Bencsik (Gallerist and Curator from Budapest), Vladimír Beskid (Director of Ján Koniarek Gallery in Trnava, Slovakia), Goschka Gawlik (Art critic and Curator from Vienna) Roman Grabner (Curator at Universalmuseum Joanneum in Graz), Vít Havránek (Video chancellor for international relations at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague), Edith Raidl (Art collector from Vienna), Tanja Skorepa (Head of STRABAG Kunstforum in Vienna) and Wilhelm Weiß (Founding Director at STRABAG Kunstforumin Vienna). 

Meet the awarded artists:

Józefina Alanko

From material to immaterial and back again, the vital force of Jósefina Alanko’s works lies in change. Her techniques involve acrylic painting and simple materials like textiles, paper, sand, and glue. These familiar elements are transformed into nameless instruments in the artist’s hands, re-emerging as complete and recognisable artworks. Listening to the material is imperative. That makes it possible to understand the subject matter, which is strongly influenced by a combination of Alanko’s personal experience, reality and the subconscious. Varying textures engage the sense of touch. The scent of the materials can conjure up memories, while colour and shape create notions of physicality. The sense of intimacy intensifies when the artwork’s protruding surfaces compel the observer to share the space with it. In Jósefina Alanko’s recent works, feminine pouches are formed on canvases that project outwards. They reference and explore femininity and motherhood (spiritually and physically), a connection with nature, and the concept of matriarchy. The opaque pouches create a sense of safety and care, for they conceal what lies within. They hide the unknown inside their recesses – says Mateusz Krain

Józefina Alanko, courtesy of STRABAG Artaward International, 2028

Peter Cvik 

Peter Cvik (b. 1985) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. He is known for his compelling exploration of deserted landscapes, incorporating architectural and industrial elements into his artwork. Cvik’s unique style captures the eerie beauty of abandoned spaces, offering a glimpse into forgotten worlds. His masterful use of perspective, texture, and colour creates a sense of mystery and intrigue in his paintings. Cvik’s art transports viewers to a realm where time stands still, allowing them to contemplate the relationship between man-made structures and nature’s reclamation. His work serves as a powerful reminder of the transience of human existence.

Peter Cvik, photo courtesy of STRABAG Artaward International, 2028

Samira Homayouni 

Samira Homayouni is a visionary artist who pushes the boundaries of portraiture. 

Her individual and original approach to the genre of portraiture convinced the jury. Born in Zanjan in 1986, the artist grew up with the Iranian- Islamic pictorial tradition, in which depiction of human beings is not permitted, and portraits per se do not exist. With a unique technique, she paints non-visible portraits using photographic chemicals. Homayouni’s art delves beneath the surface, exploring the intangible aspects of human identity and emotion. Through her skilful manipulation of light and chemistry, she captures the essence of her subjects, revealing their innermost thoughts and feelings. Homayouni’s captivating portraits invite viewers to contemplate the complexities of human existence and the invisible threads that connect us all.

Samira Homayouni, photo courtesy of STRABAG Artaward International, 2028

Liza Libenko

Liza Libenko‘s work explores the hauntingly beautiful depictions of war’s brutality and devastation. Through her paintings, Libenko captures the emotional and physical toll of the conflict, conveying the resilience and vulnerability of the human spirit. Her art serves as a poignant reminder of the consequences of war, calling for empathy and understanding. With a keen eye for composition and masterful use of colour, Libenko’s works evoke a sense of both sorrow and hope, leaving a profound impact on viewers.

Grzegorz Siembida 

Grzegorz Siembida is an artist whose paintings reflect a post-history era. Siembida’s works are characterised by layers of meaning and disrupted imagery, challenging conventional notions of representation. Through his abstract compositions and skilful use of colour and texture, he invites viewers to question established narratives and explore the complexities of contemporary existence. Siembida’s art sparks dialogue and contemplation, visualising the fluidity and diversity of truth in the modern world. 

Grzegorz Siembida, photo courtesy of STRABAG Artaward International, 2028

The exhibition with the works of the main prize winner and the four recognition award winners can be seen from 16 June -18 August 2023 at the STRABAG Artlounge. A catalogue will be published to accompany the exhibition. From October 2023, all award-winning artists will have a solo show at STRABAG Artlounge in Vienna.

About The Author


Founder of Contemporary Lynx (2013). Editor-in-chief of the Contemporary Lynx in print and online. The art historian with a Master of Arts degree in Arts Policy & Management (the University of London, Birkbeck College) and Master of Arts in History of Art (Jagiellonian University in Cracow).

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