Norval Foundation and The Sovereign Art Foundation have announced Famakan Magassa as the Grand Prize Winner of the 2023 Norval Sovereign African Art Prize (NSAAP).
The Malian painter won for his work La Ballade Noctambule, an acrylic on canvas work that NSAAP describes as using “morbid humour to discuss difficult themes such as addiction, desperation and conflict.”
Magassa’s work grapples with notions of morality, vice, power and desire, often with a characteristic humour that’s embedded in both the style of his painting and the overall tone of his work. In La Ballade Noctambule, for example, a drunk and deflated figure is rolled away in a wheelbarrow. The figure pushing the wheelbarrow is equally dishevelled and wears only one shoe – a common symbol in the artist’s work, used to signal undesirability.
Speaking on his win, Magassa said:
“It’s an honour and source of pride for me and for the Malian people. I would like to say thank you to Ronan Grossiat as it is thanks to him that I became aware of the Prize.”
Magassa, who is currently represented by the New York gallery Albertz Benda, is the second winner of the NSAAP, which focusses on contemporary artists from Africa and its diaspora. South African artist Bonolo Kavula was the winner of the inaugural prize. Magassa receives R500 000 and the opportunity to hold a solo exhibition at Norval Foundation.