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2015 Reinhold Cassirer Award Shortlisted Artists

The Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, in partnership with Strauss & Co, William Kentridge and Benon Lutaaya, is excited to announce the shortlisted artists for the 2015 Reinhold Cassirer Award. This prestigious award has helped create and shape the lives and careers of artists such as Blessing Ngobeni and Tshepo Mosopa. The award is in its 5th year and is a tremendous opportunity for an artist to gain a foothold into the industry.

The Bag Factory would like to thank all those who applied for the award. We received numerous fantastic applications for 2015 and are thrilled by the great quality of work produced by young artists in South Africa.

The shortlisted artists are:

  • Lois Anguria
  • Nompumelelo Ngoma
  • Keneilwe Mokoena


Although they have not been shortlisted we would like to recognise and make Special Mention of the following Artists:

  •  Kehla Chepape Makgoto
  • Teboho Relesai


Lois Anguria, From Uncle - Unwrapped for Easter (detail), 2013-14
Lois Anguria, From Uncle – Unwrapped for Easter (detail), 2013-14

Lois Anguria

Lois Anguria has an interesting and diverse relationship with the African continent with strong familial ties to Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. Her work explores the African diaspora and her own position in relation to ii and more directly in relation to the African continent. What is it like to be part of the African disapora within the continent itself? Her diverse range of materials express her interest in what makes one African and how that identity is formed within modem, western world, a wor1d where citizenship is complicated, both on and off the continent and fraught with historic, political and economic interventions.

Nompumelelo Ngoma, Valley of Dry Bones

Nompumelelo Ngoma

Nompumelelo Ngoma was born in 1984 Dlamini, Soweto. Her work interrogates the traditional African custom of Lobola. She explores issues of femininity, identity and gender through domesticity and vulnerability within the context of African tradition. Aspects such as subservience and the gaze are strong motifs in her work as she tries to unpack the underlying issues that resonate within the culture of give and take which is Lobola. This recurring theme is represented in her work by the use of the bride and the cow. The work is simultaneously uneasy and romantic, questioning her relationship to these traditions within a westernised society.

Keneilwe Mokoena, Fraccions, 2015. Pen on 300gsm Hannemuhle. 69.5cm x 42cm
Keneilwe Mokoena, Fraccions, 2015. Pen on 300gsm Hannemuhle. 69.5cm x 42cm

Keneilwe Mokoena

Keneilwe Mokoena’s work spans between multiple disciplines including drawing, painting, photography and installation. She explores patterns of order and chaos within herself and her environment in an attempt to come to terms with the chaotic nature of her state of mind. Her starting point comes from the concept of interconnection. Everything organic and inorganic, microcosm and macrocosm, mind and matter -are interconnected and interwoven into beautiful patterns dictated by changes that are both within and without her control. She finds solace in this interconnection, choosing to see beauty in chaos. She says, “When I look at the cracks and peels of paint caused by changes in environment-a worn out sur1ace resembling a wounded skin-much like the emotional wounds that come with great changes in life. Everything suddenly becomes a metaphor of everything else because all of existence is bound by self similarity. It is in nature that I find solace in the understanding that I, as human, am not alone in the struggle for survival and reminds me to see the beauty of chaos.”


  • Tshepo Mosopa
  • BlessingNgobeni
  • Asanda Kupa
  • Thato Nhlapo

Tshepo Mosopa, the first recipient of the award in 2011 has since participated in two international residencies in France and the USA, became a finalist for Absa L’atelier, shown his work in numerous group exhibition and won the SA Taxi Art Foundation Award. Mosopa’s work acts as a catalyst for a dialogue between different communities, the artist, the subject and the viewer. Through this he records and communicates the plight of society by the process of interaction, observation and investigating the challenges and conditions, their impact psychological on different geographic mappings.

Blessing Ngobeni is a self taught painter. His paintings are filled with the irony of the cabaret, sporting the influences of Norman Catherine and Mir6, while never forgetting his township roots. Ngobeni has since had four solo exhibitions with Gallery MOMO, attended international residencies and has exhibited his work at the JHB Art Fair and other international art fairs. His work is in many private collections including pieces owned by actor Samuel L Jackson. Blessing was also nominated as one of the M&G Top 200 Young South Africans in 2014.

Asanda Kupa, the third recipient of the award, has participated in numerous group exhibitions, art fairs and a solo exhibition at Art Afrique gallery . Kupa continues to commit himself to matters concerning his community in Molteno in the Eastern Cape. He recently funded a project he calls ‘lnkululeko art reach’ where he teaches school children basic art and life skills, and together they beautify the small town by painting murals on ruined walls. He is currently producing a documentary about Molteno.

Thato Nhlapo, the most recent winner of the award, participated in a European residency with beer company Grolsch in 2014 as part of their 100 year celebration for which he reimagined his work on a SMEG Fridge. Nhlapo uses his graffiti style to challenge traditional art practices. His works transgress the traditional forms by bringing the outside into the gallery spaces.

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