Dutch artist Erik van Lieshout has won the Heineken Prize for art, the Netherlands’ most prestigious prize for visual artists. He will receive a cash prize of around $123,000, half of which will fund a new exhibition or publication. Van Lieshout will be honored at an award ceremony that will take place in Amsterdam in September.
Born in Deurne in 1968, Van Lieshout lives and works in Rotterdam. He studied at the Academy of Art and Design in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and at Atelier 63 in Haarlem. His work primarily consists of drawings, collages, sculptures, and videos. He participated in the 2013 Venice Biennale and the 2010 edition of Manifesta, for which he spent two months overhauling the basement of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and sketched and filmed the process. Titled The Basement, 2014, the work addresses the state of Russia under Vladimir Putin’s regime, LGBQ rights, the seizure of Crimea, censorship, and Pussy Riot. His work can be found in the permanent collections of various museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Chaired by Kitty Zijlmans, a professor at Leiden University, the jury comprised Ann Demeester, the director of the Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem; artist Aernout Mik, a Heineken Prize for Art laureate in 2002; Carla Sieburgh, a professor at Radboud University; and Dirk Snauwaert, the artistic director of WIELS, Brussels.
“In his unique, tragicomic style, Van Lieshout puts his finger on what ails society,” the jury said in a statement. “His work never flags, continues to grow and is pure: he is not out to preach. He enters into dialogue with groups who others often give a wide berth: ghetto-dwellers, junkies, drifters, and right-wing or left-wing extremists. He raises questions about drugs, sex, violence and overregulation. There is no taboo or danger that Erik van Lieshout tries to avoid; on the contrary, he makes a beeline for them and tries to find a dialogue.”
Alfred Heineken established the biennial prize in 1988 in order to recognize and encourage exceptionally talented artists who live and work in the Netherlands. Previous laureates include Peter Struycken, Mark Manders, Barbara Visser, Job Koelewijn, Daan van Golden, Aernout Mik, Guido Geelen, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, and Yvonne Dröge Wendel.