The Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize 2021

more than a year ago
Launched in 2016 by Joburg-based artist Blessing Ngobeni, the annual Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize (BNAP) is a unique art award that aims to assist a young, emerging visual artist to launch their career. The winner of the award is provided with a 12-week artist studio residency in Joburg and the opportunity to present a solo exhibition at top gallery Everard Read in Rosebank, Johannesburg, an incredible platform to propel a young artist on their professional journey.

Supporting the prize, Aspire Art Auctions presents an online fundraising auction open for bids at until Tue Aug 31.

The 2021 BNAP winner is Brian Montshiwa, a South African interdisciplinary artist who uses performance, photography, painting, video, printmaking, sound, and texts to explore notions of materiality and memory. Follow Brian's BNAP residency here on Instagram.

From the streets of Alex to the galleries of the world

Blessing Ngobeni launched his own art award in recognition of the incredible difficulties he faced during his youth, and how the arts helped change his life. From childhood Ngobeni faced extraordinary challenges, running away from home at the age of six to escape an abusive household. Aged just 10 he left home again alone and made his way to Alexandra, Joburg where he soon fell into a life of crime. As a teenager he was sentenced to six years behind bars for robbery.

While in prison he took stock of his life and began to pursue his matric certificate and became involved in the Tsoga (Wake Up) Arts Project. His passion for art blossomed and today Ngobeni is one of South Africa's most in-demand contemporary artists, widely collected in Africa, feted by critics and collectors globally and also the recipient of a multitude of awards and accolades.

Ngobeni's distinctive work is characterised by large-scale, multi-layered canvases that are often surreal, stimulating and occasionally terrifying. They are also always thought-provoking. Ngobeni uses paint and collage to combine images from magazines and media with intense figurative characters, reflecting the complexities of the current socio-political climate. Confronting pertinent themes such as exploitation, greed, slavery, self-enrichment and the abuse of power, his art explores deep and often uncomfortable questions about the achievements and failures of South Africa's young democracy.

Bid for artworks in aid of the 2021 Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize

As part of Aspire Art's August Timed-Online auction, the sale of a selection of works donated by leading young contemporary artists – including Teresa Firmino, Percy Maimela, Azael Langa, Themba Khumalo, Asanda Kuper and Blessing Ngobeni himself –  will raise funds to support this year's award.

You can browse and bid the works on sale in aid of the Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize at The auction is open for bids until 19:00 on Tue Aug 31. 


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