2014-2015 mentoring year, Chance of a lifetime for talented artists

Chance of a lifetime for talented young artists

February 2013

Twenty-five young artists from 21 countries have been selected as finalists for the 2014-2015 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

One young artist in each of the seven disciplines will be selected as a protégé for 12 months of one-to-one collaboration with leading artists Olafur Eliasson, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Michael Ondaatje, Alexei Ratmansky, Kaija Saariaho, Jennifer Tipton and Peter Zumthor. The names of the seven protégés will be announced in May.

The finalists, who range from 22 to 38 years of age, were selected from 154 nominees. They come from 21 countries, with all regions of the world represented: Asia (four finalists), Europe (six), North America (three), South America (five), Africa (five) and the Middle East (two).

They were shortlisted after an intensive global search by Rolex to find gifted young artists who would greatly benefit from a year’s guidance by an artistic master. In each of the seven disciplines, a voluntary, international panel of artistic leaders and experts nominates more than 20 young artists, who are then invited by Rolex to apply to be a protégé. Each panel then meets to consider the applications and choose three or four of the applicants who the panel believes would be ideal protégés. Those shortlisted candidates, who are listed below, will now meet the mentor in their discipline, who will choose a protégé.

View photos of the protégé finalists


(Mentor: Peter Zumthor)

Amritha Ballal, aged 33, is an architect, urban planner and founding partner of SpaceMatters. Her country, India, influences, inspires and informs her work most.

Gloria Maria Cabral Insaurralde, aged 31 from Paraguay, is a partner in Gabinete de Arquitectura. She aims to implement an architecture that facilitates a spirit of community, as well as interaction and communication with others.

Orlando García, aged 38, was born in Colombia and is now an American citizen. He is the founder and principal architect of G Ateliers. “Architecture,” he says, “should begin with a clear understanding of our most basic human condition and aspirations.”

Hiba Shahzada is a 29-year-old architect at Sahel Al Hiyari Architects in Jordan. Her dream is to build works that may vary in scale but remain consistent in ambition.

(Mentor: Alexei Ratmansky)

Robert Binet, a 22-year-old Canadian, is choreographic associate at the National Ballet of Canada. He gives the audience the chance to understand each dancer. Purpose, place and connection in a work are important to him.

Myles Thatcher
is a 23-year-old American choreographer and dancer with the San Francisco Ballet who combines classical technique with organic movement, focusing on communicating a specific intention through each work.

George Williamson
is a 23-year-old British choreographer who is associate artist at the English National Ballet. He wants to use the techniques of classical ballet for a modern audience, creating narrative ballet for people of today.

(Mentor: Alejandro G. Iñárritu)

Fellipe Barbosa
, aged 33, from Brazil, says: “I want my films to be personal and universal, simple and complex, quiet and resonant – contradictory, like the characters in them. Most of all, I want them to have life, energy and authenticity.”

Denes Nagy is a 33-year-old freelance film director and screenwriter from Hungary. Although obsessed with making films, what he says he is really obsessed with is mystery – the mystery of existence.

Tom Shoval, a 32-year-old Israeli film-maker, writer and director, believes film-making has the capacity to open up people to places they don’t know in their souls.

(Mentor: Michael Ondaatje)

Neal Hovelmeier
, aged 35, is the Deputy Headmaster (6th form) at St John’s College, Harare, Zimbabwe. For Hovelmeier, writing is synonymous with an act of confrontation. Through writing he is able to work through this confrontation, to reach his own understanding of an issue.

Togara Muzanenhamo, who is aged 38, is a general manager on a family farm in Zimbabwe. He says that writing is a form of exploration: a journey from one point to the next without a defined destination, but a journey enriched by continual discovery.

Chinelo Okparanta, aged 32, is currently living in the United States. A Visiting Assistant Professor, Creative Writing (Fiction), Purdue University, Indiana, Okparanta wants to tell stories about the contemporary realities of her country, Nigeria – those that explore what it means to be human.

Miroslav Penkov, who is aged 31, is an Assistant Professor of English, Creative Writing Program, University of North Texas, Denton. He wants “the world to read about Bulgaria, his people, history and folklore. And for the people of Bulgaria to start reading literature again, something they forgot how to do in the past two decades of economic crisis.”

(Mentor: Kaija Saariaho)

Felipe Lara
is a 34-year-old Brazilian composer living in New York, whose interests include translation/interpretation of acoustic models, application of electroacoustic paradigms in instrumental works, non-Western and oral music traditions, and the voice.

Vasco Mendonça is a 36-year-old Portuguese composer and university teacher whose influences include Harrison Birtwistle (ritual and drama in musical performance), Franco Donatoni (importance of gesture) and Benjamin Britten (clarity of vocal writing).

Anna Thorvaldsdottir is a 36-year-old composer from Iceland whose music tends to portray a flowing world of sounds with an enigmatic lyrical atmosphere.

(Mentor: Jennifer Tipton)

Kévin Briard, a 29-year-old French lighting designer, always looks for simplicity in his work and often uses sources of light as significant parts of the set. A permanent artist of a National Drama Center in France for three years, he is currently working freelance with several directors and choreographers.

Christopher Kuhl, a 30-year-old American, is a lighting, scenic, installation and conceptual designer for theatre, dance and live music, including opera. He thinks about light as the study of volume and space rather than just “paint” applied to a surface.

Sebastián Solórzano Rodríguez, a 27-year-old Mexican lighting designer, working mainly in dance, attempts to create transdisciplinary artworks with light as the main media. Painting and Expanded Cinema have always been some of his greatest references.

Yeung Tsz Yan, a 30-year-old theatre and dance lighting designer from Hong Kong, China, uses lighting to create different spaces, to construct a visual weight on the stage and to echo the visual rhythm of performance.

(Mentor: Olafur Eliasson)

Sammy Baloji is a 35-year-old artist photographer, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and now based in Belgium. Founder of Picha Art Center and Lubumbashi Biennale, he wants to create an experimental atelier in Congo that would support artists and nurture local creation in this politically and economically uncertain environment.

Dineo Seshee Bopape is a 32-year-old South African visual artist who is inspired by Lewis Carroll, Salman Rushdie, Paul Auster and Bessie Head, as well as artists David Hammons and Daniel Bovhkov – all creators who make her think about time, place and magic.

Sahej Rahal is a 25-year-old Indian visual artist whose wide range of approaches towards new media has greatly informed his aesthetic process. Mahatma Gandhi, whom he regards as the first performance artist, is his greatest influence.

Sumakshi Singh, a 34-year-old Indian visual artist, says that Vedic philosophy, as interpreted through Swami Kriyananda, triggers her work in exploring the nature of reality and its relationship to levels of consciousness.