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2022 Norval Sovereign African Art Prize mobile image

2022 Norval Sovereign African Art Prize

Overview image

Overview

The Norval Sovereign African Art Prize aims to benefit contemporary artists working in Africa or of the African diaspora by increasing their international exposure. A collaboration between The Sovereign Art Foundation and Norval Foundation, the Prize will celebrate the practice of some of the most significant contemporary artists working today. Click here to view the Terms and Conditions.

Our Aims

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To exhibit a balanced representation of the most significant contemporary art from the African continent and African diaspora and showcase its diverse character and qualities.

Nuture Talent
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To widen and build knowledge of the work of contemporary artists in the region, to give them public visibility, exposure in the art market and a wider international following.

Engage the public
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To display artworks in a considered space so that visitors may directly engage with some of the best contemporary art from the region and to make this exhibition available online to reach as broad an audience as possible.

Raise Funds
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To raise significant funds for the artists and for Norval Foundation’s Education Programme.

How It Works

01

Nomination and Shortlisting

The Prize invites contemporary artists, nominated by a board of independent art professionals, to each enter up to three artworks online. A judging panel comprised of world-class art experts shortlist the 30 most accomplished artworks from a range of digital entries.

02

Exhibition and Artwork Auction

The shortlisted artworks are then exhibited at Norval Foundation in Cape Town, where they are judged for a second time and voted on by the public. The judges scores are aggregated, and a Grand Prize winner is named. The other shortlisted artworks are auctioned, and proceeds split evenly between the artists and Norval Foundation. Artists receive the same split as they would through a gallery and the artworks often fetch higher prices thanks to generous bidding from charity patrons.

03

Public Vote

To encourage engagement and increase exposure of the artists’ works, the general public are invited to cast a vote online or in person for their favourite artwork displayed in the exhibition. The artwork with the most votes is awarded the Public Vote Prize.

04

The Prizes

500,000 South African Rand, Grand Prize
25,000 South African Rand, Public Vote Prize

Finalists

Abraham Onoriode Oghobase
Metallurgical Practice: Landscape 01 image
Metallurgical Practice: Landscape 01
Bonolo Kavula
Tswelopele image
Grand Prize Winner
Tswelopele
Dan Halter
The Communist Manifesto image
The Communist Manifesto
M’barek Bouhchichi
Terre image
Terre
Modupeola Fadugba
Black Water Pillars image
Black Water Pillars
Mohamed Bourouissa
Network #07 image
Network #07
René Tavares
Sóia Dona Um, 2021, Retratos Pra Inglês Ver - Series image
Sóia Dona Um, 2021, Retratos Pra Inglês Ver – Series
Willie Bester
Holy Bible image
Holy Bible
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01 / 08

Abraham Onoriode Oghobase

Metallurgical Practice: Landscape 01 image

Abraham Onoriode Oghobase

Metallurgical Practice: Landscape 01
Dimension: 86 x 61cm Edition 1 of 5 + 2 AP
Medium: Aluminium-mounted inkjet print on matte paper
Country: Nigeria

Abraham Onoriode Oghobase (b. 1979, Nigeria) is an artist who, for the last decade, has embraced photography as a way of exploring the intersections of environment, urbanism, and history – using his own body as recurring subject. His work attempts to address colonial history, environmental exploitation, and personal encounters with place.

Metallurgical Practice: Landscape is a series that forms part an ongoing body of work that presents a cross-sectional study the Jos Plateau region of north-central Nigeria. A composite, layered process results in the final image. Mining diagrams from from early 20th century topographic text books are superimposed on images of the Jos landscape. The work, made up of multiple sub-series, begins to excavate the metaphoric residue of the landscape and colonial tin mining history of Jos – bare grasslands and ancient rock formations indelibly scarred by human pursuits, past and present.

02 / 08

Bonolo Kavula

Tswelopele image

Bonolo Kavula

Tswelopele
Dimension: 82 x 140cm
Medium: Punched shweshwe, thread, wood
Country: South Africa

Bonolo Kavula (b. 1992, South Africa) is an artist who uses abstraction to break with the traditions of print while maintaining a practice that is informed by the rules and logic of printmaking. She makes contemporary print works which go beyond the use of ink on paper, while the logic of printmaking remains a crucial part of her work. Punched shweshwe fabric and thread are used in combination with design, painting and sculpture to create contemporary print works.

In Tswelopele Kavula’s choice of material, shweshwe, a traditional printed textile with a rich history rooted in Southern Africa, is reminiscent of a red shweshwe dress that was an heirloom. Shweshwe is laden with intricate designs, like patterns etched into the fabric. The deconstruction and reconstruction of the fabric allows a new design to emerge from the mass of dots, leaving space for the viewer to interpret the work as they choose.

03 / 08

Dan Halter

The Communist Manifesto image

Dan Halter

The Communist Manifesto
Dimension: 150 x 77cm Edition 3 of 3 + 1 AP
Medium: Hand-woven archival ink-jet prints
Country: Zimbabwe/Switzerland

Dan Halter (b. 1977, Zimbabwe) is an artist whose practice is informed by his position as a Zimbabwean currently living in South Africa. His work deals with a sense of dislocated national identity, human migration and the dark humour of present realities in Southern Africa. Halter uses ubiquitous materials and engage with local popular visual strategies as a form of expression. His work often exploits the language of craft and curio in a conceptual art context. Working with Bienco Ikete, a refugee from the DRC for a number of years, together they have organised a way of weaving.

The Communist Manifesto is made out of the entire text from The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels, one of the world’s most influential political documents. It looks analytically at the class struggle and at capitalism. Contemporary instances of communism are known as socialist market economies, practiced predominantly in China. China has also been the world’s fastest growing economy. This Chinese 100 RMB note made out The Communist Manifesto sums up this story visually.

04 / 08

M’barek Bouhchichi

Terre image

M’barek Bouhchichi

Terre
Dimension: 110 x 150 x 1.5 cm
Medium: Installation, Terracotta
Country: Morocco

M’barek Bouhchichi (b. 1975, Morocco) is an artist whose work moves from the transcription of research into hollow and full spaces, from colour to the gesture that composes. His beginnings as an abstract painter anticipate his current work. His works propose a dual reading that rests on that of the artist which is personal and a reading that is guided by thoughts that are open to being shared and interpreted. The thematic thread of his works is an individual voice that enables a re-writing of the self. It is a thought process unfolding in acts that the artist signifies with comings and goings between the idea and the experience of the work.

Terre (earth) is an installation-accumulation of several thousand small heads manually produced out of the same mould. Beyond their different hues in clay, these faces bear no specifics markers. Through an almost absurd process of infinite repetition, like an insistent demand or impassioned prayer, Bouhchichi produces the bare, miniaturized image of an egalitarian humanity. But the huddled population of equals remains inaccessible under glass. This work was inspired by the words of a potter Bouhchichi met in Tunisia: “we are all made of earth”. Out of this origin story the artist has created a horizon as palpable as it is out of reach.

05 / 08

Modupeola Fadugba

Black Water Pillars image

Modupeola Fadugba

Black Water Pillars
Dimension: 92 x 122cm
Medium: Acrylic, ink and graphite on burned canvas
Country: Nigeria

Modupeola Fadugba (b. 1985, Togo) is an artist who tells triumphant stories of swimmers and lifeguards from Accra, Abuja, Lagos, Dakar, Philadelphia and Harlem. Stories beyond survival – stories of community, learning, teaching, togetherness and play. In an attempt to capture the representative group and individual portraits, her paintings have moved from abstraction to realism, spilled over into poems and performance, been experienced through documentary film and immersive installation.

Black Water Pillars illustrates the process of remembrance, back to childhood memories in post-genocide Rwanda and reminds Fadugba of how much Rwanda’s story has changed in her lifetime. In Black Water Pillars, the aesthetics of orientation and alignment— or lack thereof— reflect Chinua Achebe’s “falling apart” of structures. The tension between order and entropy, the past and future of a nation. As Nigeria ‘reclaims’ the post-colonial, post-war narrative can it revert to ancestral culture or must it borrow wisdom from other countries?

06 / 08

Mohamed Bourouissa

Network #07 image

Mohamed Bourouissa

Network #07
Dimension: 55 x 55cm Edition 1 of 3 + 1 AP
Medium: Digital image generated by AI and printed on diasec
Country: Algeria/France

Mohamed Bourouissa (b. 1978, Algeria) is an artist who works through a long immersion phase, which is premised on the opportunity to articulate conceptual explorations across different artistic iterations. Bourouissa describes contemporary society implicitly, by its contours. With a critical take on the mass media image, the subjects of his photographs and videos are people left behind at the crossroads of integration and exclusion.

The Network series, based on the figure of Assa Traoré, aims to question the power and impact of political influence on social media. The image was generated using artificial intelligence. More precisely, a GAN (Generative Adversarial Networks) assembly that was fed images that Bourouissa selected. This GAN is made up of two “adversary” networks that have two different missions: the first, the generator, is in charge of generating “false” images, as close as possible to the example images of the dataset; the second, the discriminator, is in charge of distinguishing between false images and example images. As the algorithm works, a composite image is generated – representing a network of visuals.

07 / 08

René Tavares

Sóia Dona Um, 2021, Retratos Pra Inglês Ver - Series image

René Tavares

Sóia Dona Um, 2021, Retratos Pra Inglês Ver – Series
Dimension: 165 x 165cm
Medium: Acrylic charcoal pigment, china ink
Country: São Tomé e Príncipe

René Tavares (b. 1983, Sao Tomé and Principe) is an artist whose work reflects on the African diaspora and the rhythms of communities that overlap time and place, and dilutes the watertight borders between domains. In creating work across a range of media, his practice reflects a personal experience of passages, exploring the threshold spaces between various artistic languages, between Africa and Europe, between the local and the global. Through questioning borders his work intends to awaken political awareness and social empowerment by creating a sense of restlessness, contained in visual artistic language.

Sóia dona mu Retratos pra inglês ver Serie is from the series Portraits for English to see and is the result of research that starts from archive photographs to painting. The title is based on an old Portuguese idiomatic expression “This is only for English to see!” (“para inglês ver”) that was originated around 1830 when England demanded Brazil make laws that prevented the slave trade. But those laws had little or no impact. Nowadays a “para inglês ver” project is one which, from the outside, appears to address a problem, but which in practice is merely a superficial change. For Tavares, it is about remembering the plantations in São Tomé and the period after the abolition of slavery. The workers were carefully prepared for inspection and forced to act out an illusory staging that perpetuated the maintenance of a system based on human exploitation. The basis of this work is to remind us of a historical past that it is important to recover and reckon with.

08 / 08

Willie Bester

Holy Bible image

Willie Bester

Holy Bible
Dimension: 62 x 87 x 10cm
Medium: Mixed media – wall Installation
Country: South Africa

Willie Bester (b. 1956, South Africa) is cited globally as one of South Africa’s most important resistance artists. He incorporates recycled material into his paintings, assemblages and sculpture, creating powerful artworks that speak against political, social and economic injustice. Mixed-media acts as the line between reality and imagination, in the sense of bringing an idea or a narrative that was repressed back to life. Abruptly this interchange between the two ‘worlds’ becomes the relationship that is very much dependent on each other. Resulting in the gap between the unconscious and conscious mind becoming blurred.

Holy Bible incorporates two childhood shoes juxtaposed with a broken typewriter. Bester uses the fragility of nostalgia as a signifier of the fragility of the mind of a child and the dangers of complacency in accepting without interrogation. The glass and frame that fastened this composition is labelled as the Holy Bible. By using the nostalgia of an object and its historical significance, Bester challenges the viewer to query memories and understandings that are assumed.

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