Sotheby's International Prize 2018 :Norval Foundation with APC Research Fellow Nessa Leibhammer as Guest Curator Receive Recommendation

24 Dec 2018 - 11:00
Caption: 'Christ Playing Football' from the Altar of Christ. Image courtesy of Johannesburg Art Gallery


On the 6th December Sotheby's International announced the winners of the Sotheby's Prize. This award celebrates curatorial excellence, championing the work of innovative institutions that strive to break new ground and challenge our understanding of art today.

The Norval Foundation located in Steenberg, Cape Town was one of 5 institutions to receive a commendation for their upcoming exhibition Jackson Hlungwani: Alt and Omega planned for 2020. Nessa Leibhammer, Research Fellow of the APC is the invited guest curator for this exhibition and will join Owen Martin, Chief Curator, Karel Nel, Adjunct Senior Curator and Portia Malatjie Adjunct Curator of the Norval Foundation. This award is a first for an institution in Africa.

Jackson Hlungwani: Alt and Omega is a major exhibition with a comprehensive accompanying publication on the late Hlungwani a healer-priest and sculptor who lived in the remote village of Mbokhoto in the Limpopo Province. Besides being a prolific wood carver, he built an extensive acropolis-like stone structure including two altars on top of an earlier archaeological site.  He called this site The New Jerusalem and from here he preached his version of the gospel.

This highly innovative artist developed a visual language that fused influences from Tsonga-Shangaan woodcarving, Gothic religious imagery, Ethiopian Church motifs, southern African spirituality, popular culture and biblical narratives. His main intention was to use his artworks as a way to share his interpretation of the Christian gospel and to send his message of reconciliation to the larger world. 

The winners of the Sotheby's Prize were selected by a jury chaired by Allan Schwartzman (Chairman of the Fine Art Division of Sotheby's) and included Sir Nicholas Serota (Chair, Arts Council England), Connie Butler (Chief Curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles), Okwui Enwezor (Director of the Haus der Kunst museum in Munich) and Donna de Salvo (Senior Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York).