Sotheby’s praises African art museum

11 December, 2018 | Norval Foundation is the first art foundation in Africa, and one of only five globally, to be commended by Sotheby’s international auction house for curatorial excellence.

Africa’s first museum praised by Sotheby’s

The Sotheby’s commendation has been bestowed upon the exhibition ‘Jackson Hlungwani: Alt and Omega’, opening at Norval Foundation in February 2020, offering the most comprehensive survey of the work of the South African artist, curated by Nessa Leibhammer, Portia Malatjie, Owen Martin and Karel Nel.

‘Norval Foundation is honoured to receive a commendation from Sotheby’s for their annual prize. As a young institution, being less than a year old, we believe that this early endorsement of our artistic programme by such an accomplished jury speaks to our ambition of being a globally relevant cultural institution,’ says Elana Brundyn, the chief executive at Norval Foundation.

‘This year we decided to acknowledge five exhibitions because there was such depth of very strong applications. We’ve come to realise, even in the first year of the prize, that the commendations have made a big difference for the museums in their ability to raise funds from other sources and to gain support within their own communities.’ says Robin Woodhead, Sotheby’s prize co-creator and chairman of Sotheby’s.

Now in its second year, the Sotheby’s Prize garnered interest from around the globe with a total of 93 applications from institutions in 19 different countries across all major continents. Covering a remarkably diverse range, applications were received for exhibitions exploring different aspects and dialogues around geography, race, gender, and sexuality, among other themes.

Jackson Xidonkani Hlungwani (1923-2010) developed a visual language that integrated traditions of Tsonga-Shangaan wood carving, Southern African spirituality, popular culture and biblical narratives. His main intention was to use his artworks as a way to share his interpretation of the Christian gospel and to send his message of reconciliation to the larger world. While he has received substantial critical recognition among artists and arts professionals in South Africa, Hlungwani is not widely known by the South African public or international audiences.

‘The recognition and seed funding provided by the Sotheby’s Prize is an important catalyst for the curatorial team to undertake research of South African artist Jackson Hlungwani in advance of the exhibition ‘Jackson Hlungwani: Alt and Omega’ at Norval Foundation in 2020. Spanning Hlungwani’s career from the 1970s to his death in 2010, and including key works from public and private collections from across Southern Africa, this survey exhibition fulfils the Foundation’s commitment of researching, exhibiting and creating public programming that focuses on artists and artistic practices that have been excluded from the art historical canon,’ says Norval Foundation chief curator, Owen Martin.

For more information visit Norval Foundation’s website.

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