Monday, November 1, 2010

Anish Kapoor chooses Nicholas Hlobo : Rolex Protege Arts Initiative

Unongayindoda (Installation including Imtyibilizi xa yomile)

Detail of craftmanship

One normally associates Rolex sponsorship with Tennis, Yachting and Golf. However they are mightily involved in the arts. The Rolex Mentor & Protege Arts Initiative is firmly behind the value and significance of the arts; especially appreciated during the present economic meltdown. Funding of the arts has always suffered greatly during times of economic uncertainty and cut drastically during a recession. However the times they are a changing, proving that investing in the arts, might bring better returns in the long term than most other long term investments. We are in a recession, however auctioneers specialising in the visual arts are experiencing record prices for sought after works of art. I believe Rolex has always understood the true value of the luxury market; each Rolex being numbered and timeless in value (immortal - passed on to the next generation). Our understanding of Luxury has dramatically changed - There is a new concept for luxury. "It's less about worth and more about values; less about exclusivity and more about experience - it's about buying less, but better"(Cited in Elle Decoration England; November 2009;19). Luxury lies not in how much stuff we have but in its fine craftsmanship and how highly we value the product.
Nicholas Hlobo's work is highly valued and it is therefore not surprising that Anish Kapoor chose him as his Protege. As mentioned at the press launch, held at Linger Longer Restaurant today, Hlobo is already an established and accomplished local South African artist, winner of numerous major awards, including the Young Standard bank Artist Award. He also had a solo exhibition at the Tate Modern, to mention just a few achievements (full C.V. at Michael Stevenson Gallery). This is a mentorship with a difference; Great Artists guiding rising talents to reach their true individual creative potential (excellence) on the world stage in a very difficult profession. In its fifth cycle, the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative is ultimately about sharing and handing down knowledge from one generation to the next in preserving and promoting excellence in the world's artistic cultural heritage. No doubt that Kapoor and Hlobo will share many issues surrounding their cultural roots; both raised in developing countries, India and South Africa respectively.

First US Installation for Hlobo in Savannah
 Nicholas is one of the students to graduate while I was Dean of the Faculty of Art Design and Architecture at the then Technikon Witwatersrand. His work celebrates being a South African and focusses on critical issues round ethnic identity, gender identity and colonial heritage. "Through my works I attempt to create conversations that explore certain issues within my culture as a South African. The conversations become a way of questioning people's perceptions around issues of masculinity, gender, race and ethnicity'. (cited in the media release - Rolex Final Nov.1 2010). Well done Nicholas Hlobo and bravo to Rolex.

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