Rolex mentors & protégés, New mentors announced

New mentors announced in Venice

Seven new mentors for 2014–2015

Seven eminent artists have agreed to serve as mentors in the 2014-2015 cycle of the Rolex Arts Initiative.

Olafur Eliasson (visual arts), Alejandro González Iñárritu (film), Michael Ondaatje (literature), Alexei Ratmansky (dance), Kaija Saariaho (music), Jennifer Tipton (theatre) and Peter Zumthor (architecture) will each spend a year, from mid-2014, mentoring a young talent, with logistical and financial support from Rolex. Each mentor will choose a protégé early in 2014, after seven panels of arts specialists complete a worldwide search for some of the world’s most talented young artists and present their recommended candidates to the mentors.

The names of the new mentors were announced at a special event in Venice on 21 October celebrating the success of the 2012-2013 cycle of the Rolex Arts Initiative.

The new mentors have all declared their enthusiasm for the programme, with several declaring that they also hope to learn from the process of mentoring a younger artist:

  • Olafur Eliasson: “It is my experience that teaching and sharing knowledge is as rewarding as learning. Teaching is always connected to getting new knowledge myself.”
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu: “I believe that sharing experiences, perspectives and points of view are fundamental to the growth of an artist. When two colleagues meet ready to expose themselves to each other and look deeply into different aspects of any process, then one plus one can be three.”
  • Peter Zumthor: “I agreed to be a mentor because I believe in the professional exchange of people of different backgrounds, talents, skills and age. I highly appreciate the fact that Rolex offers funding for this professional artistic exchange and research outside of everyday economics.”
  • Alexei Ratmansky: “Ballet is changing in nature and to have contact with someone so young will give me insight into a future I can't anticipate. I can also share my experience, which one rarely does in dance. “

Some of the mentors said they had agreed to participate because of their commitment to the arts:

  • Michael Ondaatje: “No matter how much the arts are written about today by the press, they are in a precarious state. The famous may continue as famous. But new writers, especially those from cultures that are not based in London or New York or Berlin, have a hard time being recognized and helped and eventually acknowledged. So many great writers are lost to us for this reason. A mentorship programme that is not based on an already close friendship or a literary location is therefore essential.”
  • Jennifer Tipton: “I have always felt that it was important to work with young people or people who are just beginning to work in my field – that is why I teach. To watch another with more experience is an important way to learn.”

Many of the new mentors said they had benefited from being mentored when they were young artists:

  • Kaija Saariaho said: “I have experienced a kind of mentoring occasionally, when I had meetings as a young professional with the American composer Roger Reynolds, who gave me feedback on my work when I needed it. I was also helped, just after having settled in Paris, by the French composer Henri Dutilleux, through his generosity and always kind comments on my music in public and private occasions. Already these two experiences showed me how important it is to support and help younger artists, and how meaningful it can be.”

Who are the mentors?

All seven mentors have won much acclaim, both at home and abroad, for their art:

Architecture: Swiss architect Peter Zumthor has gained international renown for his timeless buildings that incorporate his masterful use of materials and light. He was recently commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to replace some of the existing structures with a new solar-powered building. In 2009, he won the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honour.

Dance: Alexei Ratmansky, currently artist-in-residence at the American Ballet Theatre, is widely recognized as one of the world’s most influential and sought-after choreographers. Trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School, his ballets maintain and respect the art form’s classical origins, while revitalizing and innovating its storytelling.

Film: Director Alejandro González Iñárritu is acclaimed for his realistic and penetrating films that explore human interaction and connection. His 2006 film Babel, was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director – the first nomination for a Mexican director.

Literature: Novelist Michael Ondaatje is best known for his lyrical and expressive writing that explores multicultural themes. His novel The English Patient won the Booker Prize in 1992 – the first Canadian to win the eminent prize.

Music: Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho is known for her brilliant chamber music, orchestral works and operas created by blending traditional acoustic instruments and electronics in sophisticated computer programs. In 2013, she won the Polar Music Award in recognition of her contributions to the field.

Theatre: Jennifer Tipton (from the U.S.) has revolutionized the role of light in the performing arts, designing for hundreds of theatrical, operatic and dance performances. She has earned numerous prizes in the field, including Obies, Tonys, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.

Visual Arts: Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson is best known for his large-scale installations and sculptures that employ non-traditional materials such as water and light. In 2003, he represented Denmark at the Venice Biennale.