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2020 Cassirer Welz Award winner Announced

Posted on 26 November 2020

The Bag Factory and Strauss Education are delighted to announce Levy Pooe as the winner of the tenth edition of the Cassirer Welz Award. 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 & Co to 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.

Johannesburg-based Pooe works in a range of mediums from painting, charcoal, collage as well as photography. He is passionate about telling stories and creating narratives that speak to the urban black experience. As the winner of the 2020 Cassirer Welz Award, Pooe receives an intensive ten-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.

Left: Liona Nyariri, The Pidgin (coming out from within), 2018 | Right: Abongile Sidzumo, Zibotshwa zibhityile, 2019

Runner-up Sidzumo lives and works in Cape Town. 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. He also won the Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize in 2020. Third place Nyariri has exhibited widely including Cape Town and New York and has also been a fellow with the Whitney Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum. Her work uses mythology and speculative fiction to explore themes around Pidgin Languages and the written and oral traditions of Southern Africa.

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 & Co. recognises the importance of continuing the legacy of this prestigious development award for emerging artists in South Africa.


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