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Julius Agbaje, Asmaa Jama emerge winners of 2023 Access ART X Prize

Julius Agbaje, Asmaa Jama emerge winners of 2023 Access ART X Prize

The Access ART X Prize, a platform for recognising and nurturing emerging artistic talent from Africa and its diaspora, has announced the winners of its 2023 edition. After careful deliberation, Julius Agbaje from Nigeria and Asmaa Jama representing the African/Diasporan category were selected as the standout talents from an exceptional pool of finalists. Their selection is a testament to their artistic prowess, unique vision, and potential for global impact.

Read also: ART X Lagos 2023: Access Holdings commits to empowering Africans through art

The winners were announced at a ceremony, held at Access Holdings’ headquarters in Lagos.

Both awardees will receive $10,000 grants towards solo exhibitions at ART X Lagos 2024, providing them with a platform to showcase their evolving artistic narratives and ideas. Additionally, the Nigerian winner will embark on a three-month residency at Gasworks, London, while the African/Diasporan winner will enjoy a residency at Yinka Shonibare’s GAS Foundation in Lagos. Both recipients will benefit from tailored mentorship and an invaluable opportunity for cultural exchange.

Prior to the winner announcement, the finalists participated in a two-day ‘Finalist Forum’, designed to equip them with vital presentation skills and offer valuable artistic insights. The immersive initiative featured interactive workshops, expert and peer review opportunities, all under the guidance of esteemed facilitators and industry experts. The finalists then presented their work to the Prize Jury, after which the eventual winners were selected.

Speaking on the Access ART X Prize, Tokini Peterside-Schwebig, founder, ART X Collective, expressed her excitement, stating: “Our vision to showcase the depth and diversity of contemporary African art to the world revealed a critical necessity, which was the need to nurture and guide emerging talent on the continent to ensure their lasting impact. The birth of the Access ART X Prize was fueled by an ardent commitment to bridging the gap for early-career artists, empowering them to evolve into adept, globally relevant creatives. We are elated that this platform has endured and thrived over the years, marked by substantial growth. The increasing number of annual applications underscores both the vital need for our support and the tangible impact we are having. None of this would be possible without the invaluable support of our sponsor, Access Holdings, who has trusted us and supported our vision for the past eight years.”

In 2022, the Access ART X Prize expanded its scope to include artists from beyond Nigeria. The expansion marked a milestone in fostering diverse creativity and amplifying the voices of rising talents across the continent. The 2023 edition of the prize garnered an overwhelming response, with over 3,500 applications received from around the world during the four-week application period. The surge in applications reflects the growing importance of the Access ART X Prize in the art ecosystem and its ability to attract diverse talent from all corners of the globe.

On his part, Herbert Wigwe, group chief executive officer, Access Holdings PLC, noted that Access Holdings view the Access ART X Prize as more than an accolade; rather, as a catalyst for change.
“It is a testament to our unwavering commitment to foster creativity and propel the African art industry towards unprecedented heights.
“The Prize also embodies a promise that we will continue to support and nurture the burgeoning talents in Africa; foster diversity, inclusivity, and cross-cultural exchange within the African art scene, and deepen collaborations with partners that bring us closer towards our vision of shaping a brighter, more inclusive future for all,” Wigwe said.
Having faced a challenging task in selecting the winners, given the exceptional level of talent and creativity on display, the jury selected Roanna Tella (Nigerian category) and Lawrence Mwangi (African/Diaspora category) for honourable mentions. Both artists will receive prizes of $2,000 and tailored mentorship.

Read also: Access Art X collective: Inspiring Africa emerging talents

The distinguished jury for the 2023 Access ART X Prize comprised luminaries such as: Babajide Adeniyi-Jones (documentary photographer), Barthélémy Toguo (artist), Daudi Karungi (founder, Afriart Gallery), Emeka Ogboh (artist), Gabi Ngcobo (artist, educator, and curatorial director, Javett Art Centre), and Yesomi Umolu (director of Curatorial Affairs and Public Practice for the Serpentine Galleries). Jumoke Sanwo served as the curator of the prize for the second year running.