Artists from Asia and Africa dominate the Future Generation Art Prize 2017 shortlist.

Including 21 young artists below the age of 35, the shortlist for the 2017 edition of the PinchukArtCentre’s prestigious prize is dominated by artists from the ‘Global South’, with Latin American, Asian and African young practitioners.

Open Group members Yuri Bieliey, Pavlo Kovach, Stanislav Turina, and Anton Varga. Image courtesy the artists.

Open Group members Yuri Bieliey, Pavlo Kovach, Stanislav Turina, and Anton Varga. Image courtesy the artists.

On 21 November 2016, the PinchukArtCentre announced the 21 artists shortlisted for the fourth edition of the Future Generation Art Prize in 2017.

The Future Generation Art Prize was established by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in Kiev, Ukraine in 2009, and is a worldwide contemporary art prize created to discover, recognise and give long-term support to a future generation of artists. The Prize is judged by a distinguished jury of art professionals, including:

Kameelah Janan Rasheed. Image courtesy the artist.

Kameelah Janan Rasheed. Image courtesy the artist.

The Future Generation Art Prize, which awards USD100,000 to the winner, aims to make a major contribution to the careers of younger artists “involved in the dynamic cultural development of societies in transition, many of whom have found it difficult to get their voices heard”. The competition is open to all artists up to the age of 35 of all backgrounds, working in any medium, anywhere in the world.

The artists for the 2017 iteration were selected from among 4,421 entries by artists from 138 countries, by an international Selection Committee that included:

  • Elise Atangana, Independent curator & producer Paris
  • Daniela Castro, independent curator and writer based in São Paulo (Chairwomen of the selection committee)
  • Björn Geldhof, Artistic Director, PinchukArtCentre (Kiev) and YARAT (Baku)
  • Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, Senior Curator, National Gallery Singapore
  • Diana Nawi, Associate Curator, Pérez Art Museum Miami
  • Anna Smolak, Curator, Future Generation Art Prize 2017
  • Gaia Tedone, Independent Curator, PhD Candidate, Centre for the Study of the Networked Image, London South Bank University.
Sasha Pirogova. Image courtesy the artist.

Sasha Pirogova. Image courtesy the artist.

An exhibition of the work of the 21 shortlisted artists will go on show at the PinchukArtCentre in Kiev from 25 February to 16 April 2017, during which the winner will be announced at an Award Ceremony in Kiev in March. The exhibition will be presented as an official collateral event at the Palazzo Contarini Polignac at the Venice Biennale, opening on 11 May 2017.

Among the shortlisted artists are four from Latin America, including Iván Argote (b. 1982, Colombia), Firelei Báez (b. 1980, Dominican Republic), Vivian Caccuri (b. 1986, Brazil), Sol Calero (b. 1982, Venezuela), Carla Chaim (b. 1983, Brazil).

Eight artists are from Europe and North America, including among others Rebecca Moss (b. 1991, UK), Sasha Pirogova (b. 1986, Russia), Kameelah Janan Rasheed (b. 1985, United States), Martine Syms (b.1988, United States) and Open Group (Yuri Bieliey, b. 1988; Pavlo Kovach, b. 1987; Stanislav Turina, b. 1988; Anton Varga, b. 1989, Ukraine).

The Open Group from Ukraine were nominated for the shortlist as winners of the PinchukArtCentre Prize 2015, a national contemporary art prize awarded to young Ukrainian artists up to the age of 35.

Art Radar introduces the eight shortlisted artists from Asia and Africa.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Image courtesy the artist. Photo: Brigitte Sire.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Image courtesy the artist. Photo: Brigitte Sire.

1. Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Holding an MFA from Yale University School of Art, Njideka Akunyili Crosby was born in Nigeria in 1983 and is now based in Los Angeles, where she moved in 1999. She draws on art historical, political and personal references to create densely layered figurative compositions that reflect the complexities of contemporary life experience. Her hybrid identity – African and North American – is combined in her work, which at first sight appears to portray familiar and everyday scenes from ordinary life. Only with a closer inspection do the other layers of her tableaux reveal themselves, through photo-collaged images of Nigerian pop culture and politics, including pop stars, models and celebrities, and military dictators.

The artist sources these images from her personal snapshots, magazines and advertisements, as well as from the internet. Crosby adds layers of meaning to her works as representations of her personal memory and cultural history. She presents complex tableaux in an effort to challenge generalisations about the African or diasporic experience.

Dineo Seshee Bopape. Image courtesy the artist.

Dineo Seshee Bopape. Image courtesy the artist.

2. Dineo Seshee Bopape

Dineo Seshee Bopape was born in 1981 in Polokwane, South Africa, and is now based in Johannesburg. She graduated at De Ateliers in Amsterdam (2007) and holds an MFA from Columbia University, New York (2010). The multimedia artist creates experimental video montages, sound, found objects, photographs and dense sculputural installations that engage with sociopolitical notions of memory, narration and representation. Her work confronts the legacy of apartheid in South Africa, passing through an examination of the self, to address problems of narration and storytelling. The artist questions official histories, moving beyond stereotypes and a fixed notion of the self.

Her work UNTITLED (OF OCCULT INSTABILITY) [FEELINGS] was recently shown at Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The installation reflects on feelings, psychic dissolution and weight of context, and was created as a result of a research into the song Feelings performed by Nina Simone in 1976 at Montreux Jazz Festival, together with a consideration of Bessie Head’s novel, A question of power (1974).

Phoebe Boswell. Image courtesy the artist.

Phoebe Boswell. Image courtesy the artist.

3. Phoebe Boswell

London-based Phoebe Boswell was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1982 to a Kikuyu mother and fourth generation British Kenyan father. She grew up as an expatriate in the Middle East, before settling in London, where she studied Painting at the Slade School of Art and 2D Animation at Central St Martins. Her history and identity are rooted, as her website profile writes, in “transient middle points and passages of migration”. Her artistic explorations are therefore always “anchored” to the notion of “home” and its multiple meanings and locations. Boswell combines traditional draftsmanship with digital technology, and creates drawings, animations and installations that present fragmented narratives mirroring global experiences.

Her recent 2014 installation Transit Terminal, commissioned by HS Project and exhibited in 2015, explores the transient territory of the migrant experience. The work consists of 12 white, totemic plinths, with charcoal drawings of African migrants in various archetypal guises, like a kitenge-clad mama holding a rosary, a uniformed schoolgirl, a middle-aged Arab/Indian gentleman, and so on. These figures are only seen from the back, as if waiting for a train. Empathy is interrupted by the anonymity of the subjects, and the viewer is forced to construct their own narratives as co-inhabitants of the city.

Vajiko Chachkhiani. Image courtesy the artist.

Vajiko Chachkhiani. Image courtesy the artist.

5. Vajiko Chachkhiani

Based in Berlin and born 1985 in Tbilisi, Georgia, Vajiko Chachkhiani studied mathematics and information science before undertaking art training. He engages with existential questions through sculptures, installations and performances that raise questions about human nature and the history and conflicts connected to it. His works visualise traces of human activities and changes through time using materials as disparate as found and traded personal effects, wax and water.

In 2014, the artist received the 7th Rubens Promotional Award of the City of Siegen in the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen and his work was on display at the museum in an exhibition entitled “Both” until February 2015. Among the works on show were Settle Intimacy, a concrete block with cut off hair left there from a performance, The Missing Landscape (2014) with charred trees installed in a gallery standing as witnesses of the war that raged for years in his home country Georgia, and an oppressively overheated room with high humidity.

Li Ran. Image courtesy the artist.

Li Ran. Image courtesy the artist.

6. Li Ran

Li Ran was born in 1986 in Hubei, China. He graduated with a BFA from the Oil Painting Department of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 2009 and now lives and works in Beijing. Through performance, installation and video, Li explores the legacy and conflicts of modernism and its particular effects on Chinese culture. The artist transforms himself into various personas in his performative roles, creating satirical portrayals of knowledge as spectacle. His oeuvre references post-colonial discourse and uses a playful mocking style of acting to engage with the histories of imperialism and provoke alternative, critical views and interpretations.

For instance, in his video installation Beyond Geography, Li films a series of encounters that arise as Li Ran brings the audience along into an imaginary jungle. In the work, the artist makes a conceptual portrayal of the social order, striving to overcome the relationships of geographic boundaries and bring to the fore individual experiences. His work was exhibited in 2014 at the Kadist Foundation in “One Man, One Night”, which recalled a stand-up comedy show where Li plays a starring role in his works.

Ibrahim Mahama. Image courtesy the artist.

Ibrahim Mahama. Image courtesy the artist.

7. Ibrahim Mahama

Ibrahim Mahama was born in Ghana in 1987 and is based in Tamale. Through his installation work, he considers the ways in which capital and labour find expression in common materials, such as jute, and draw attention to the global transportation of goods across borders. Jute sacks once used to carry cocoa and now also employed for coal are his material of choice. Each sack is stamped with ‘Product of Ghana’, carries inscriptions of owners’ names and is sometimes embellished with regional patterned fabrics. The sacks are also torn, stitched together and transformed into immersive works installed in art spaces as well as public spaces such as markets.

Mahama has also covered entire buildings with his installations and one of his works hung on the walls of the exit passage of the Arsenale at the Venice Biennale in 2015. The artist says of the unique material in his work:

The coal sacks began as an extension of how the body could be looked at. It contains all these system and makings of original owners, which have been transferred from the bodies creating a link between the two forms.

Wa Lehulere Kemang. Image courtesy the artist.

Wa Lehulere Kemang. Image courtesy the artist.

8. Kemang Wa Lehulere

Awarded Deutsche Bank‘s “Artist of the Year” 2017, Kemang Wa Lehulere was born in South Africa in 1984. He is a co-founder of the Gugulective (2006), an artist-led collective based in Cape Town, and a founding member of the Center for Historical Reenactments in Johannesburg. The artist creates wall drawings, collages and complex performances that revisit his own history and the pain of his society during the Apartheid. His poignant observations uncover the differences between personal and official histories of racism and injustice.

Wa Lehulere often focuses on black South African history, and looks at and reimagines narratives relating to black artists, musicians and authors. Through his work, he attempts to prevent their work and lives from sinking into oblivion in what he calls a “protest against forgetting”. His recent exhibition “History Will Break Your Heart”, which toured South Africa, created a dialogue between his work and the work of artists such as Gladys Mgudlandlu and Ernest Mancoba, who greatly inspired him. The latter is regarded as the first modern black South African artist who co-founded the artist group CoBrA in the 1940s.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia


Related Topics: art prizes, awards, artist profiles, news

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar for more on contemporary art prizes and award winning artists from Asia and beyond


By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *