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Indian contemporary artist Prabhakar Pachpute wins Artes Mundi Prize

I am honoured to share the prize with this wonderful company of artists: Pachpute

prabhakarff L-R: Artwork from Pachpute's work titled 'Political Animal; Prabhakar Pachpute | Twitter

Indian contemporary artist Prabhakar Pachpute has been named one of the six winners for the ninth Artes Mundi Prize.

“I am so happy to know about the decision by the jury and I truly respect it. It’s an incredible decision to select all the six participant artists as awardees. I feel it’s a very kind gesture in today’s difficult times.

"I am honoured to share the prize with this wonderful company of artists,” Pachpute told PTI.

While the award has been traditionally given to one artist, this year, for the first time ever, the prize has been awarded to all the six shortlisted artists “in recognition of this time of exceptional social and economic upheaval and to acknowledge the outstanding quality of their individual practices, and the powerfully relevant work that has been either newly created or reconfigured especially for the exhibition”.

The awards were announced on Wednesday night.

“Reflecting on 2020 into the present, this has been a time of enormous social, political and economic upheaval, and as a jury, we have reached a collective, unanimous decision to award the Artes Mundi 9 Prize to all six participating artists,” the jurors said in a statement.

They added that each individual practice was “outstanding in merit, made especially, and powerfully relevant today”.

Works by all six of the winning artists are currently on display at National Museum Cardiff and Chapter until September 5, 2021.

“Together the six presentations create a coherent and timely exhibition, addressing a range of issues and topics for consideration.

“Furthermore, in creating new and ambitious bodies of work for Artes Mundi 9, each artist has demonstrated great resilience in overcoming the many, global obstacles that COVID-19 has presented. Collectively, the exhibition speaks to their distinctive and powerful voices in ways that are rich, thoughtful and rewarding,” the jurors said.

Congratulating Pachpute for his win, Kolkata-based Experimenter gallery that represents him globally said the artist was a “crucially important voice from the region”, and the award was an “incredible recognition”.

“He (Pachpute) has continued to grapple with issues that confront us socially, politically and ecologically over the years and through his practice asks difficult and uncomfortable questions.

“We have had the privilege to work with Prabhakar from the very beginning of his career and know how deeply involved he has been both as an artist and as a citizen, taking friends, collaborators and comrades along in his inspiring journey,” Priyanka Raja of Experimenter told PTI.

Pachpute is known for working with an array of mediums and materials including drawing, light, stop-motion animations, sound and sculptural forms.

His use of charcoal has a direct connection to his subject matter and familial roots, coal mines and coal miners.

The Pune-based artist often creates immersive and dramatic environments in his site-specific works, using portraiture and landscape with surrealist tropes to critically tackle issues of mining labour and the effects of mining on the natural and human landscape.

Using Maharashtra as a starting point, the artist combines research from around the world and personal experiences, moving from the personal to the global, investigating a complexity of historical transformations on an economic, societal and environmental level.

Founded in 2002, the biennial prize is given by Artes Mundi, an internationally focused arts organisation that identifies, recognises and supports contemporary visual artists who engage with the human condition, social reality and lived experience.

It traditionally carries a cash prize of 40,000 Pound sterling (approx. $55,620), but this year, the winners will each receive 10,000 Pound sterling (approx. $13,900)

The shortlist was selected from over 500 nominations spanning over 60 countries, by a jury comprising of Cosmin Costinas, Executive Director and Curator of Para Site, Hong Kong and Artistic Director of Kathmandu Triennale 2020; Elvira Dyangani-Ose, Director of The Showroom gallery in London; and Rachel Kent, Chief Curator at Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

Other winners include Firelei Báez from Dominican Republic, Dineo Seshee Bopape from South Africa, Meiro Koizumi from Japan, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz from Puerto Rico, and Carrie Mae Weems from the USA.

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