Terre by M'barek Bouhchichi | Norval Sovereign African Art Prize 2022
Terre by M'barek Bouhchichi | Norval Sovereign African Art Prize 2022

The First Norval Sovereign African Art Prize Awards

The Norval Foundation, founded by the Norval family in 2018, dedicates itself to researching, understanding, and care of twentieth and twenty-first-century visual art from Africa and its diasporas.

In conjunction with The Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF), the Norval Foundation announced the first-ever winner of the Norval Sovereign African Art Prize. The competition saw 158 artists nominated for the prize by a board of 53 independent arts professionals, including curators and academics working closely within the respective artists’ region. A judging panel of five world-class art specialists selected thirty shortlisted finalists from 18 countries. South Africa boasted the most substantial representation, followed by Zimbabwe, Angola, Morocco, and Nigeria.

Bonolo Kavula, represented by the SMAC Gallery in Cape Town, won the inaugural grand prize of R500 000 for their “Tswelopele” piece at a private awards event at the Norval Foundation during the Finalists Exhibition. The competition sponsors made the award possible, the lead sponsor being EON Reality, the world leader in Augmented and Virtual Reality-based experience creation for education and industry.

Tswelopele by Bonolo Kavula, winner of the Norval Sovereign African Art Prize 2022
Tswelopele by Bonolo Kavula, winner of the Norval Sovereign African Art Prize 2022

Throughout the Finalists Exhibition, the public voted the piece ‘Sóia dona um, 2021, retratos pra Inglês ver – series‘ By René Tavares, of This Is Not A White Cube, Luanda and Lisbon, and Galeire Alex Serra, Cologne the winner of the Public Vote Prize and the artists got R25 thousand for the piece.

Kavula’s piece takes the fabric from a red shweshwe dress, reminiscent of a family heirloom and displays it through an interweaving deconstruction and reconstruction, creating a new design in a mass of dots. The composition leaves space for the viewer to interpret the work in their own way. Kavula’s work focused on abstraction, repetition and design, allowing them to create layered and multidimensional installations. As part of the prize, Bonolo Kavula will get the opportunity to hold a solo exhibition featuring her winning piece at the Norval Foundation.

Except for Kavula’s piece, all shortlisted works were auctioned by Sotheby’s. The money from the auctions is split equally between the artist and the Norval Foundation’s Educational Program.

The Norval Sovereign African Art Prize not only provides a wonderful opportunity for the artists involved, but it also brings to the fore the vibrant, boundary-pushing artistic communities across Africa and the diaspora for the benefit of an audience worldwide.

Hannah O’Leary, Head of Modern & Contemporary African Art, Southeby’s.

The public is invited to view all shortlisted artworks at the exhibition, open every day except Tuesday from 9 am to 5 pm until 28 February 2022.

Norval Sovereign African Art Prize