Now in its 6th year, the international Bridgeman Studio Award is the fastest growing contemporary art competition for artists, illustrators, and fine art photographers, the Bridgeman Studio Award is sponsored this year by Verizon Media with the theme 'the Art of Diversity'.
With nearly 5,000 entries from all over the world, we are proud to announce the winner of this year's award is Ken Nwadiogbu (b. 1994, Lagos, Nigeria), Ken’s incredible technical ability and concept of the Art of Diversity wowed this year's judges, Verizon Media, artists Zak Ove and Sinta Tantra and Bridgeman Images. The runners up for this year's competition were Rhea Dillon, Gianna Lee Dispenza, Aicha Fall, Linnet Rubaya and Naira Mushtaq.
Find out more about the judging process and selection of the artists on our blog.
This year’s prize: £5,000 cash commission for the design of a limited edition print and tote bag, to be sold online on Artsy and in the project space of acclaimed YBA artist Yinka Shonibare OBE RA, in March 2020. 5 Runners-up will also receive £500 each, and will also have the opportunity to exhibit their works in the London exhibition. 50 percent of the sales of the limited edition prints will go towards the charity Mama Biashara.
This year’s brief has been chosen by Verizon Media. The idea of launching an international art competition follows the path of Verizon Media’s Black is the New Black initiative last year. This year, the United ERG wanted to go further and choose the context of the UK Black History Month to celebrate diversity. Diversity within the black community itself, but also diversity within the different communities living in our cities, or in the many ways we approach life and work. This competition is also about reminding ourselves of the importance of allies, and how allies can help to make things progress and create more awareness by being advocates of inclusion.
Championing diversity and inclusion is not only a moral and cultural mission but also a business imperative for us here at Verizon Media. We will make better decisions, create more innovative products and have a more profound impact on society, the more we can promote diversity and inclusion from within and through compelling partnerships as with the Bridgeman Studio Award.
2019 WINNER: Ken Nwadiogbu
Ken Nwadiogbu (b. 1994, Lagos, Nigeria) creates innovative drawings on various surfaces, as he challenges and investigates Black socio-political structures and issues while engaging in multidisciplinary modes of storytelling. Inspired by issues relating to those around him, he began creating works that reflect their struggles, with hopes of making a change in his community.
Popularly known as KenArt, Nwadiogbu is credited for beginning the ‘Contemporealism’ movement, a fusion that is primarily centred around Hyper-Realism and Contemporary art. His works can be found in collections like The Dean Collection, owned by Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and Alicia Keys; The WASP Rugby team, The Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art, as well as the collections of other esteemed personalities.
How will winning Bridgeman Studio Award help with your practice as an artist and what does it mean to you?
No doubt, it is a dream come true but more importantly, it assures me that I am on the right path. In addition, I believe winning this award will be reflected in my artistic practice as a result of my desire to continuously evolve my practice and be the greatest version of myself. Additionally, it means more people will connect with my work, which in turn means I am creating more visibility for African art and influencing change on a larger scale. Lastly, this will inspire a whole lot of young African creatives to believe they can do it because I did it.
Ken Nwadiogbu is constantly revitalising his practice by challenging modes of Black representation. His oeuvre encompasses various forms of drawing using charcoal, collage, acrylic, and most recently photography. For him, art is a safe haven, devoid of restrictions, boxes and boundaries.
In 2019, Nwadiogbu was awarded the Future Award Prize for Visual and Applied Arts and was recently named by Guardian Life as one of the most “Outstanding Personalities of 2019”. He held his debut solo show ‘CONTEMPOREALISM’ (2019), in Brick Lane Gallery, London, and has also participated in local and international group exhibitions and fairs including Insanity (2016), Lagos; Artyrama Art Exhibition (2017), Lagos; Art X (2018 & 2019), Lagos; Moniker Art Fair (2018 & 2019), Brooklyn and London; Empowerment Exhibition (2018), London; Afriuture (2018), Canada; Anti-Trump Art Show (2019), London; LAX-SFO (2019), California; LAX-MSY (2019), Lousiana; LAX LHR (2019), London and so on.
Read our full interview with Ken Nwadiogbu here.
Gianna Lee Dispenza
Gianna (b. 1990 Washington State, USA) works across painting, sculpture, drawing, and installation. Gianna Dispenza graduated from the San Francisco Art institute in 2014 with a BFA in sculpture and is currently living in London, completing her MA at the Royal College of Art. Her works have been shown across the USA, UK, Italy, France, South Korea, and Lebanon and among institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and Saatchi Gallery.
Aicha Fall is a street photographer and finalist of the Independent Photography Award 2019.
Born in Abidjan, Côte d´Ivoire, Aïcha Fall lived her childhood there before leaving for France for her studies. Over time, Aïcha learned to create a link between her identity, her culture and her traditions, through Art.
Aïcha is a storyteller and she uses photography to write and tell her stories. Full of life, of movements whether spontaneous or composed, the scenes she captures are always talkative and original. Bursting with creativity, she diverts elements that surround her to transform them into works of art. Do big things with little, that’s her cup of tea. For example, she will use a mobile phone to create her images.
She is a visionary and above all an African woman. And for her the best way to combine her vision and her identity was to go back home.
Through this journey she finally achieves the mission that had been intended for her all this time. The responsibility to represent her African culture, her continent, her heritage, and her community.
A graduate in African language and studies, Aicha is among these new creatives who perpetuate the idea that Art is an integral part of our souls and our lives. She is one of those African women of the new millennium: talented, open-minded and daring.
Rhea Dillon is a south London born visual artist. Working in film, photography and installations she uses her lens to amplify blackness.
Through films such as PROCESS (a poetic rendering about the management of black hair) and Black Angel (a protest for black freedom and expression), as well as her photography series SISTAHS (a love letter to black sisterhood and friendship), Dillon ruminates on personal stories and extends them into the wider world.
Manifesting the strength of the black diaspora, Dillon’s work carries a presence, which is both urgent and reflective. It fills out space in a world which often tries to minimise – even remove – black voices.
Exhibitions & Screenings
Visions In Motion, ARTNOIR and NeueHouse, NYC, 2019
REEL VISION, The Curtain, London, 2019 - shadesofnoir.org.uk
“Wontumi Ntaaki”, Accra, Ghana, 2018
I’M HOME, London, 2018 - www.blank100.co.uk
Here Now, London - As part of Open Doors: Vote 100 in collaboration with the
V&A Museum, 2018 - queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk
Pakkard Studio, Los Angeles, 2018
Linnet Rubaya is a self-taught artist based in Leeds. Born in Harare and raised in London, Rubaya’s artistic journey trailed an unusual path (she holds a degree in Biomedical Science from the University of Brighton) that is paying off this year. A child of a nurse and a policeman in post-colonial Zimbabwe, Linnet is a self-taught artist born in Harare Zimbabwe and raised in London, England.
She now lives and works in Leeds, England after graduating with a degree in Biomedical Science from The university of Brighton. As a child of the African Diaspora, her search for home has led her to have many connections to many cities and many stories. With contemporary influences from artists such as Nelson Makamo, Banksy and most notably Kerry James Marshall, Linnet aims is to provide a unique commentary primarily for under represented People.
Naira Mushtaq is a multidisciplinary artist from Lahore, Pakistan. Ms. Mushtaq received her masters from Central Saint Martins with distinction, as a recipient of International Vice Chancellor Scholarship. Her practice explores the deconstruction and re-framing of the vernacular, found photographs and film archives focusing on history, memory and social commentary stemming from a desire to understand memory.
Ms. Mushtaq has been a recipient of the Carpenter’s Wharf Studio Residency Award for 2019, London, INKSTER PRINT Residency 2019 and SANAT artist residency award, 2014, Pakistan. She co-published a paper titled “The Sky Drew Some New Lines”, read at Urban Heritage Activism Conference at TU Berlin, published in the book ”Things don’t exist until you give them a name” in Berlin.
Her recent projects include Darbari Duniyah and Aluminum Theater for Art Night London 2019 and Bringing the Spice at Raven Row, London. She is part of an artist-run collective called WAH, or We Are Here, building a bridge between London and Lahore that focuses on providing support and platforms through events and exhibitions forwomen of color, asserting the fact that we exist inthe art world, to prevent our erasure. She is also a member of an artist collective called Awami Art Collective which focuses on creating a public discourse, ranging from rapid urbanization and themes of violence in the name of religion. Being part of AAC allows her in engaging withthe viewer as a key component in her work.
Find out more about the judging process and selection of the artists on our blog.
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