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Indepth Arts News:

"THE VINCENT: The First Bi-annual Award for Contemporary Art in Europe"
2000-06-10 until 2000-09-24
Bonnefanten Museum
Maastricht, , NL Netherlands

Six artists have been selected for the short list of candidates to win The Vincent van Gogh Bi-annual Award for Contemporary Art in Europe, the first contemporary art prize open to all European artists. The E50,000 prize is one of the largest of its kind in Europe but, unlike similar prizes which focus on the artists of one country, this prize embraces the work of artists throughout Europe. The bi-annual prize was initiated by the Broere Charitable Foundation and is organised by the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, where the works by the six short-listed artists will be exhibited from Saturday 10 June to Sunday 24 September 2000. The winner will be announced in early September.

The six nominees come from Belgium, Finland, Germany, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom, and have been selected as artists who appeared and made critical statements in the 1990s. They are (in alphabetical order) Eija Liisa Ahtila, Miroslaw Balka, Oladélé Ajiboyé Bamgboyé, Carsten Höller, Pedro Cabrita Reis and Luc Tuymans.

Ahtila was born in 1959 in Hämeenlinna and lives and works in Finland. Her work occupies a border-genre somewhere between short film and video installation. The interaction between the moving image, narration and space is the primary focus of her work. Each of her films is a study of its subject matter as well as its structure or mode of narration and the context of presentation. She attended the University of California, Los Angeles, London College of Printing and Helsinki University. Balka was born in 1958 in Warsaw, where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts and where he still lives and works. Balka’s works are often related to his body measurements, by which means the sculptures lose the randomness of the used materials and acquire human dimensions with which the viewer can identify. Bamgboyé was born in 1963 in Nigeria and lives and works in London where he attended the Slade College of Fine Art. Photo, video and computer installations explore the relationship between identity and modern technology, in particular the perception of the black body. Höller was born in 1960 in Brussels and now lives and works in Cologne and Stockholm. It is the confluence of art and science that gives his works their particular character. Reminiscent of laboratory structures, the viewer becomes the object of the experiment. Reis was born in 1956 in Lisbon where he still lives and works. His art is born of the physicality of a space out of which secret, fantastical elements spring forth. He distils life into objects and environments so that everyday spaces become infused with poetic energy. Tuymans was born in Mortsel, Belgium, and now lives and works in Antwerp. His paintings have an air of desolation, at times threatening, enhanced by pale colours and thin layers of paint. Content is central to his work and reflection is more important than vivid colour.

All six artists have held numerous individual exhibitions as well as participating in group exhibitions in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the USA.

The six artists were selected by Belgian Barbara Vanderlinden, the Brussels-based independent curator, and Spaniard Vicente Todoli, the director of the Museu Serralves in Porto, both of whom have wide experience of the contemporary art scene in Europe. The many solo and group exhibitions that they have curated are widely recognised as having set very high standards in the field. The president of the jury that will select the winner is Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of the Tate Gallery, London, and his fellow jurors are Barbara Vanderlinden, Vicente Todoli, and two well-known artists Luciano Fabro (Italy) and Peter Fischli & David Weiss (Switzerland).

The Bonnefantenmuseum houses Old Master paintings and sculpture as well as contemporary art. Since 1995, when it moved into a new building designed by Aldo Rossi, its exhibition programme has focused on the most recent developments in international contemporary art. Speaking of The Vincent, the museum’s Director Alexander van Grevenstein said: Since 1945 the discourse on contemporary art has been largely confined to Western Europe and North America, however contemporary art has become a more global issue with South America, Asia and Africa joining in. While of course we welcome such a development, each continent must contemplate its own roots and traditions, and Europe is most complex and divided in that respect. How European can one beNULL This award will not give answers but aims to raise questions with a louder voice than usual.

The Broere Charitable Foundation was instituted by the late Jacobus and Bastiaan Broere, founders of Gebr. Broere N.V., the shipping and oil company established in Dordrecht in The Netherlands. The Foundation’s main aim is to stimulate medical research. Its Trustees decided to establish The Vincent in memory of the late Monique Zajfen, a beloved friend of the Broere family and a patron of the arts with a commitment to and passion for contemporary art. In 1979 she opened her Gallery 121 in Antwerp which over the following thirteen years attracted numerous young artists and helped to put the city firmly on the international map of contemporary art.

The Vincent is also dedicated to the European Community in the hope that it will stimulate visual artists while enhancing communication in a free, united and peaceful Europe. The Province of Limburg and the city of Maastricht support the award as a commemoration of the European Maastricht Treaty of 1992.

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