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For Kay Hassan, a Soweto-born artist, the wheels that will propel him and his art into international galleries are already in motion. The winner of the DaimlerChrysler Award for Contemporary Art 2000, has just returned from Germany where he viewed the galleries proposed for his forthcoming exhibition in May 2000.

The international exhibition, which will be followed by a countrywide exhibition in South Africa, forms part of the award prize, which is valued at R300 000. Kay also received a R10 000 cash prize, the creation of a glossy full-colour portfolio of his work and a bursary for a study visit in Germany or the United States.

Comprising of a combination of new installation pieces and Kay's unique paper constructions (collages), the exhibition will be shown concurrently at the Württenbergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart and the Haus Huth gallery in Berlin.

Haus Huth, the representation of DaimlerChrysler Berlin, is the only historical building in the modern Postdamer Platz which is situated in the centre of this German city. Hassan's exhibition will be held on the same floor that currently houses the DaimlerChrysler corporate collection.

Dr Martin Hentschel, director of Württemberg Art Society and Hans-Jörg Baumgart, curator of the DaimlerChrysler Stuttgart art collection have already sanctioned the purchase of three of Kay's pieces for display in the DaimlerChrysler Museum.

Speaking on his return, Hassan said The Württenbergischer Kunstverein Museum has a wonderful sense and feel of space, this together with the roof light will enable me to put together a show that breathes.

The soft spoken artist is not intimidated at all by the fact that his work will stand side by side with greats like Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Picasso and says: I believe in myself and my work and feel confident that I will be a good ambassador for future South African artists. We are, after all, global citizens who just express what we feel.

The Award has given me the chance to expose a bigger body of my work to art enthusiasts who are highly informed, adds Hassan. There is a strong respect for arts and culture in Germany, to the extent that Berlin is now being called the city of the future based on the artistic talent there. I look forward to being a part of this international connection.

Hassan already has several works in progress for the May 2000 exhibition, which he pursues from his small studio in Newtown. The pieces, which can range up to 12 metres long and two metres high develop spontaneously around subjects that Kay defines as humanist philosophy.

I reflect issues and scenarios that affect people everywhere such as war, famine or abuse - and because these issues have no borders, people from around the world can relate to them, adds Hassan.

One such piece titled The Flight which depicts objects that people carry with them when they flee, whether for religious, political or economic reasons, was exhibited in South Korea in 1996 and hailed as a sensitive and poetic investigation into the fraught context of the historical past.

When asked about his plans to study internationally, Kay said that travel is an education in itself, but that he still has a tremendous amount to accomplish locally before that particular journey begins.

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