Nigerian artist emerges first African winner of Korean award

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A Nigerian fine artist, Otobong Nkanga, has emerged the first African to win the Yanghyun Foundation Artist Award in Seoul, Korea.

Ms. Nkanga was selected for her outstanding creativity in media and motivational photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, installation and video.

While selecting Ms. Nkanga’s work, the panel declared, “in Nkanga’s work, the landscape is a sounding board for ideas, stories and memories, evoking an awareness of our connection with natural resources and its challenging histories”.

“Her installations are imaginative and emotive, but also earthly: they represent our relationship with the world. We are greatly impressed by the intensity, depth and variety of Nkanga’s body of work”, it said.

Announcing the award, the foundation’s director, Eunyoung Choi, noted that Mrs. Nkanga’s trans-categorical artistic practice was defined by her ability to pervade the complex layers of human and natural traces left in material objects and landscapes.

The foundation awards its winning artist with a cash price prize, and the opportunity to hold a full solo exhibition at one of the world’s most renowned galleries or museums as chosen by the winner within three years of receiving the prize.

The Yanghyun Prize was established in 2008 as the first international art prize by a Korean institution.

Its key aim is to acknowledge and support outstanding mid-career artists by offering a global stage for exhibiting their work.

Past recipients are Cameron Jamie, an American (2008), Isa Genzken, from Germany (2009), Jewyo Rhii, a South Korean (2010), Akram Zaatari, a Lebanese (2011), Abraham Cruzvillegas, a Mexican (2012), Rivane Neuenschwander, Brasil (2013) and Apitchapong Weerasethakul, also a Lebanese (2014).

Ms. Nkanga will receive her award at the National Museum of the country in Seoul.

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