Prestigious annual FNB Art Prize awarded to Peju Alatise

Nigerian artist, Peju Alatise, has been announced as the 2017 recipient of the highly coveted FNB Art Prize at the media launch of the tenth instalment of the FNB JoburgArtFair.

Alatise joins the ranks of previous winners such as Nolan Oswald Dennis, Turiya Magadlela, Portia Zvavahera and Kudzanai Chiurai. She receives a cash prize as well as the opportunity to create a new project that will be showcased in a dedicated exhibition space at the FNB JoburgArtFair this September. Alatise – who holds a degree in architecture – is a mixed-medium artist, poet and published writer whose interdisciplinary work has garnered attention on the global art stage. She was selected as the 2016 fellow at the Smithsonian Institute of African Art and exhibited at the Venice Biennale’s 57th edition. With several international solo exhibitions to her name, Alatise’s work can be found in private and institutional collections around the world. She’s passionate about addressing social, political and gender-related issues as her primary subject matter, through artistic work that also captures the joys and pain of womanhood in modern-life-African traditions. Mari Van Niekerk, Senior Communication and Sponsorship Manager at FNB, says that the FNB Art Prize honours exceptional artistic talent and, at the same time, provides many local and international opportunities beyond the Fair, often resulting in a springboard that catapults the artist’s career to a higher level. 

FNB JoburgArtFair

“There is a great need to continue investing in artists that tell us more about ourselves, and art in this sense is a commodity that isn’t simply a good financial investment, but a social dialogue that enables us to reflect. Our decade of continued support of the FNB JoburgArtFair is recognition of the varied roles that art plays in our society, from being a form of expression which offers a much deeper and intrinsic look at the world around us, to an alternative investment option. Our commitment to the FNB JoburgArtFair continues to ensure that in the years to come, we will continue to introduce African artists to an international audience, galleries, collectors, writers, thinkers and art lovers,” says Van Niekerk. All galleries participating in the FNB JoburgArtFair are given the opportunity to nominate one of their artists for consideration by the jury. This year, Red Door Gallery – one of the leading galleries based in Lagos – nominated Peju Alatise for the prize. Red Door’s founder, Bola Asiru says, “Peju’s work is filled with strong societal narratives on the realities of life in Africa; her message has been heard in West Africa, at the Smithsonian in the United States and the Venice Biennale in Europe. We feel that it’s time for this message to be taken to the rest of Africa and there is no better platform for this than the FNB JoburgArtFair.”

FNB JoburgArtFair

The 2017 judging panel for the coveted FNB Art Prize consisted of Nicole Siegenthaler, Producer of FNB JoburgArtFair, Pulane Kingston, partner at Webber Wentzel Attorneys and active patron of the arts and RosaLee Goldberg, New York University professor and Founding Director of Performa, a non-profit arts organisation committed to the research, development and presentation of performance by visual artists from around the world. “The quality of each of the shortlisted candidates’ proposals this year was high,” says Pulane Kingston, “but we were ultimately unanimous in our decision around Alatise’s proposal – it stood out. The innovative, universal social relevance and poignancy in the themes underpinning her work were some of the deciding factors in tipping the scales in her favour. The overall body of her work over the years is varied and compositionally strong, palpably reflecting the intense vibrancy of the African continent. We have no doubt that the integrity of the overall body of her work will propel her career meaningfully.”

FNB JoburgArtFair

Artist biography

Peju Alatise has become one of the most powerful and widely recognised contemporary artists living and working in Lagos. Through the last decade, her ever-evolving practice has consistently held audiences in awe. The exquisite nature of her technique produces an encounter between what is sense and what is known— as a material means to examine Nigeria’s shifting order of visibility within the global landscape. Among her extensive resume highlights her recent experiences as a researcher at the Smithsonian Institute in D.C, as an art teacher in Venice, and as artist resident in Morocco and Turkey. She is one of three exhibiting artists in the Nigerian pavilion at the ongoing 57th Venice Biennale of which her exhibit, Flying Girls is described as “…technically beautiful and haunting at the same time.” From her initial training as an architect to her experiments with an incredibly broad spectrum of media—from words to clay and cloth—she has positioned herself as a demiurge. That is to say, she has the ability to unearth multiple layers of meaning (and often violent historical memories) from beneath the surface of everyday objects, language, and social relations. Crafting alternative social imageries and challenging master narratives in politics and media, her trajectory sharply illustrates how artists in Africa are filling in the gaps left by official histories.

For more information about the FNB JoburgArtFair have a look at these articles:

FNB JoburgArtFair 2017: Details of Tenth Edition Announced
Director’s Note: FNB JoburgArtFair, Looking Back / Looking Forward
Prestigious annual FNB Art Prize awarded to Peju Alatise
Robin Rhode: The Mysteries
Looking Both Ways by Sean O’Toole
BMW 7 Series Individual by Esther Mahlangu now in South Africa

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