Award winning artists’ works part of the celebrations of two milestones of the Cassirer Welz Award and Bag factory

By Edward Tsumele

South Africa has a number of exciting fine art awards ceremonies, and one of these is the Cassirer Welz Award which has seen talented young artists benefit from it immensely over the years. Over the years I have had the privilege of meeting and interviewing some of the recipients of this award and they all seem to be doing well in their careers. The award ceremony over the years has seen fine auction house Strauss &Co. organize it in collaboration with the Bag Factory .

This year also marks a year of momentous milestones for the Bag Factory and therefore for in addition to celebrating the organisation’s 30th anniversary, the Bag Factory is commemorating 10 years of the Cassirer Welz Award, presented annually in partnership with long-term sponsor Strauss &Co. 

The award was founded in 2011 by the late Nobel Laureate, Nadine Gordimer in celebration of her husband Reinhold Cassirer’s love of the arts. It has grown into a prestigious visual art award known for locating and acknowledging excellence in emerging local artists. After Gordimer’s passing in 2014, Strauss&Co. pledged its continued support to the award — a partnership that has continued to this day. 

After the passing of Stephan Welz the following year, the Reinhold Cassirer Award was renamed the Cassirer Welz Award as a fitting tribute to the two men who contributed so much to the South African art world.

Each year, one emerging South African artist under the age of 35, in the field of drawing or painting, is awarded the opportunity to spend 10 weeks in residence at the Bag Factory’s studios, culminating in the artist’s first solo exhibition of new work. Through the exchange of ideas, mentorship and skills development, the artist has an opportunity for substantial creative and professional growth.

In this 10-year retrospective exhibition of the Cassirer Welz Award, the Bag Factory showcases early and new work by previous winners Tshepo Masopa (2011), Blessing Ngobeni (2012), Asanda Kupa (2013), Thato Nhlapo (2014), Keneilwe Mokoena (2015), Nompumelelo Ngoma (2016), Richard ‘Specs’ Ndimande (2017), Olivia Botha (2018), Duduzile ‘Dudubloom’ More (2019) and Levy Pooe (2020).

The exhibition takes places at the Bag Factory’s pop-up space at the new Oxford Parks precinct in Dunkeld. 

Exhibition dates: 24 July 2021 – 12 September 2021 

Address: 199 Oxford Street, Dunkeld, Johannesburg

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