Norval Foundation And The Sovereign Art Foundation Launch Prestigious Prize For Artists From Africa And Its Diaspora

Norval Foundation and The Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF) today announced the launch of an annual award for contemporary artists from Africa and its diaspora.

The Norval Sovereign African Art Prize (NSAAP) celebrates the practices of leading contemporary artists and aims to benefit them by increasing their international exposure.

Fifty-three independent art professionals working across 20 countries and territories have nominated artists to enter the Prize, resulting in over 300 online submissions.

The competition will culminate in an exhibition of 30 shortlisted artists at Norval Foundation from 26 January to 28 February 2022.

The first prize is a cash award of R500 000 South African Rand and the opportunity for a solo exhibition at Norval Foundation in Cape Town. The NSAAP also aims to raise significant funds for the shortlisted artists and for Norval Foundation’s Education Programme in an equal split through an auction administered by Sotheby’s.

An additional award (Public Vote Prize, R25 000 South African Rand) will be granted to the finalist whose work proves the most popular with the public through online votes or in-person voting at the exhibition.

The exhibition is expected to comprise a diverse display of artwork by some of the most significant voices in contemporary art while supporting arts education in Africa.

Elana Brundyn, CEO of Norval Foundation, said of the initiative: “Our partnership with The Sovereign Art Foundation epitomises the power of collaboration to achieve shared goals. Working together, we aim to further the visual arts across the continent, developing important resources for learners and educators, while also fostering opportunities for leading contemporary artists. The resources generated through this collaboration will go to the selected artists and Norval Foundation.”

The finalists’ artworks will be auctioned online in partnership with Sotheby’s, with auction proceeds to be split equally between the artists and Norval Foundation. The Foundation will use these resources to assist learners by developing their visual and verbal literacy, fostering their capacity for creative thinking and nurturing empathy, while empowering educators.

Through similar projects, including its coveted Sovereign Asian Art Prize, SAF has raised over US$9 million for artists and charitable organisations worldwide.

Howard Bilton, Founder and Chairman of SAF, commented: “The Sovereign Art Foundation has been running art prizes in Asia, Europe and the Middle East since 2003. In this time, we have showcased some of the greatest artists working in those regions and have made some amazing discoveries, whilst raising millions of dollars to assist disadvantaged children by using the therapeutic benefits of art.

Since our first initiative in Africa in 2012, we have sought to establish a significant art prize for Africa and its diaspora, where some of the most exciting and innovative art is currently being produced. In joining our expertise and experience together with that of the Norval Foundation, we are realising a long-held ambition to give these artists the recognition and platform they deserve, whilst raising substantial funds for arts education in Africa.”

Hannah O’Leary, Head of Contemporary African Art at Sotheby’s added, “We are delighted to partner with Norval Foundation and The Sovereign Art Foundation to host the auction for this ground-breaking prize. As the global leaders in the fast-growing market for contemporary art from Africa,

Sotheby’s recognises the importance of such initiatives in bringing African artists to the attention of the art world at large, and the leadership role Norval Foundation plays in showcasing the very best in artistic talent, curation and research that the African continent has to offer.”

The online entries will now be shortlisted, and the final winners determined by an expert judging panel comprising:

David Ellio_ Writer, Curator, and Museum Director;

Janine Gaëlle Dieudji, Exhibitions Director at Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, Marrakech;

Tim Marlow, Director and CEO of the Design Museum, London;

Khanya Mashabela, Curator at Norval Foundation; and

Marie-Ann Yemsi, Curator and art consultant.

The names of the 30 shortlisted artists will be announced in October 2021.

The Prize has attracted the support of local partners in South Africa, including Aspiring Logistics, who will be handling the Prize’s logistics, and FRAMED, who will be assisting with artwork framing. Information about the nomination and entry process, as well as the full nominator list, terms and conditions and full schedule of The Prize are available on the SAF website and Norval Foundation website.

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