By CityLife Arts Writer
There is a new winner for the popular annual visual art prize the Cassirer Welz Award. That artist is Levy Pooe, who was announced by The Bag Factory and Strauss Education as the triumphant artist for this year, last night.
Abongile Sidzumo was announced as second-place runner-up and Liona Nyariri received the third-place title.
The Cassirer Welz Award, named after South African auctioneers Reinhold Cassirer and Stephan Welz, is an annual award presented by the Bag Factory in partnership with Strauss & Coto a South African-based visual artist working in the mediums of painting, drawing, or sculpture. Only artists under the age of 35 and not represented by a commercial gallery are eligible.
The selection jury, comprised of Bag Factory director Candice Allison, artist Phumulani Ntuli, Strauss& Co, Executive Director Susie Goodman, and Senior Art Specialist Wilhelm van Rensburg, unanimously agreed that Pooe is an exceptional painter who will benefit from an opportunity for substantial creative and professional growth. As the winner of the 2020 Cassirer Welz Award, Pooe receives an intensive 10-week residency at the Bag Factory from 1 December 2020 – 5 February 2020 and R 25,000 towards the artist’s residency stipend, materials, and production costs. The residency culminates in a solo exhibition of newly created work at the Bag Factory opening on 6 February 2020.
Founded in 2011 in partnership with Nadine Gordimer, Strauss &Co pledged to support the award after her passing in 2014. Through this long-term partnership with Strauss &Co, the Cassirer Welz Award has helped the winners launch their careers and make a name for themselves within the South African art market. As the award reaches its ten-year milestone, Strauss&Co have confirmed their commitment to supporting the award during this time of unprecedented uncertainty in the midst of a global pandemic. Now more than ever, Strauss & Corecognises the importance of continuing the legacy of this prestigious development award for emerging artists in South Africa.
Levy Pooe(b. 1994) is a seTswana speaking South African visual artist born in Rustenburg during the country’s transition to democracy. He is currently based in Johannesburg. Working in a range of mediums from painting, charcoal, collage as well as photography, Pooe is passionate about telling stories and creating narratives that speak to the urban black experience. He mostly works from his home studio, produces murals, and creates live interpretations of musical performances. Pooe studied towards a BAFA at University of the Witwatersrand (incomplete), after which he attended the Market Photo Workshop.
Abongile Sidzumo (b.1996) lives and works in Cape Town. In 2013, he won the Shoprite Checkers Strokes of Genius Art Competition in the painting category. Sidzumo completed his degree in Fine Art at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2019 and was co-awarded the Simon Gerson prize for excellence upon graduation. During his final year at Michaelis in 2019, he participated in the student-run group show, MICROPORE, and, the following year, his work was featured in We’ve come to take you home #1, an exhibition of recently acquired artworks by the University of Cape Town. He won the Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize in 2020.
Liona R. Nyariri (b.1991) lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. Nyariri uses mythology and speculative fiction to explore themes around Pidgin Languages and the written and oral traditions of Southern Africa. Nyariri’s work has been presented at Real Art Ways in New Haven, Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, Artist Alliance Inc in New York, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York, Participant Inc Gallery in New York, Young Blood Gallery in Cape Town, AVA Gallery in Cape Town and others. Nyariri has also been a fellow with the Whitney Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum.