Kemang Wa Lehulere is awarded the 15th Baloise Art Prize at Art Basel

Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland
11 Jun 2013

Kemang Wa Lehulere is one of two young artists awarded the 15th Baloise Art Prize at the 2013 Art Basel art fair.

The annual award, which comprises two prizes of 30 000 Swiss francs (approximately R325 000) each, is given to artists exhibiting as part of Statements, Art Basel’s sector for young and emerging artists. Wa Lehulere’s work is being presented at Statements by Stevenson (booth S08).

The prize also includes the acquisition by Baloise of a group of works by the award-winners, which are donated to two important museums in Europe: currently the Hamburger Kunsthalle and the MUMOK, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna.

The jury included Manuel Borja-Villel, Director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Eric Decelle of the Collection Eric Decelle, Brussels; Karola Kraus, Director of the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna; Petra Roettig, Director of Galerie der Gegenwart, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg; and Martin Schwander, art advisor of Baloise.

The jury characterised Wa Lehulere’s work as follows: “In his work Kemang Wa Lehulere explores questions of collective memory and seeks to uncover the traces of South African history. To this end, he not only uses the devices of revealing and writing down but also of wiping out text and pictures. His wall-sized drawings, installations, performances and photographs establish a link between the trauma and myths of South Africa’s past and contemporary social issues. Wa Lehulere‘s works may be read as an archive, which demonstrates the process of forgetting and, like a collage, simultaneously opens avenues to new narratives that encourage multiple interpretations.”


Wa Lehulere (born 1984 in Cape Town) lives in Johannesburg. He has held solo exhibitions at Lombard-Freid Projects, New York (2013); Stevenson, Johannesburg (2012); the Goethe-Institut, Johannesburg (2011) and the AVA, Cape Town (2009). Important group shows include My Joburg at La Maison Rouge, Paris (opening 21 June 2013); The Ungovernables, the second triennial exhibition of the New Museum, New York (2012); and A Terrible Beauty is Born, the 11th Lyon Biennale (2011). Wa Lehulere was a co-founder of the Gugulective, an artist-led collective based in Cape Town, and a founding member of the Center for Historical Reenactments in Johannesburg. He won the inaugural Spier Contemporary Award in 2007, and the MTN New Contemporaries Award in 2010.


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