Acclaimed Ghanaian artist El Anatsui has chosen South African visual artist Bronwyn Katz as his protégée in the Visual Arts category of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative 2023-2024.
El Anatsui’s work has helped redefine the global art world with an African perspective presented through his monumental sculptures and installations incorporating water, wind, wood, clay, stone, metal, printing plates, aluminium bottle tops, and other found materials in painting, textiles, sculpture, and design.
Similarly, Cape Town-based Katz uses found natural materials such as iron ore or salvaged manufactured objects like foam mattresses and bed springs to create sculpture, installation, video, and performance work. Here are some excerpts from our chat with Bronwyn Katz.
How did you feel when you learned that El Anatsui had chosen you as his protégée?
I was very honoured and excited to receive the news. It is always interesting to work with artists who have similar sensibilities to material as I do. El Anatsui also uses and transforms everyday objects into large-scale installations. I look forward to learning about his approach to manipulating a plethora of materials. I am very inspired by his sculptural practice and how it invokes a multi-layered, sensory reimagining of our material world.
Why did you want to be part of the Rolex mentorship programme and what impact do you hope it will have on your work and career? What do you think is the importance of mentorship to your discipline?
The Rolex mentorship presents a rare opportunity for exchange between myself and El Anatsui, whose work I greatly admire. He will offer me insight into his advanced knowledge and experience in sculpture and how he uses discarded and recycled materials, for instance. This approach resonates with my practice and works with found materials, such as salvaged bedsprings and wire. At this stage in my career, mentorship will allow me to expand my horizons and encourage me to continue developing my skills and ways of working.
What are your hopes for the relationship with your mentor? What might it be like to collaborate with him over the mentoring period?
I would like this mentorship to create an open space for exploring ideas and ignite a stimulating exchange of thoughts. I feel there will also be plenty of opportunities to dissect the discourses and thematic concerns that can be traced across both our practices. This mentoring period and collaboration with El Anatsui will be an inspiring and exciting creative process with great potential for experimentation. I look forward to seeing how new ideas for works may take shape.
Have you already mentored someone? Do you imagine you might mentor someone in the future?
I have collaborated with several artists in the past, and, at times, have found myself playing the role of a mentor, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. Working as a member of the iQhiya, for instance, taught me the importance of collaboration and creative exchange, which falls in line with the philosophy of mentorship. Receiving feedback and advice from fellow artists has made a significant impact on my growth and development as an artist, and I hope that one day I can offer valuable guidance to other artists too. I see the mentoring role growing in my practice over time.