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Mona Hatoum in her London studio in 2019. Photo: Japan Art Association/The Sankei Shimbun.

Mona Hatoum and William Kentridge Among 2019 Praemium Imperiale Laureates

On Tuesday, September 17, the Japan Art Association announced the winners of the 2019 Praemium Imperiale awards, which honor practitioners in the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and theater/film. The six recipients are William Kentridge, Mona Hatoum, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Bando Tamasaburo. Recognized for their achievements in the arts, each laureate will be awarded 15 million yen, roughly $139,000, and will be honored at an award ceremony in Tokyo on October 16.

In an interview with Artforum earlier this month, Hatoum spoke about her current exhibition, “Remains to be Seen,” at White Cube in London, which runs until November 3. “People often talk about the sense of threat or danger in my work, but for me the feeling of precariousness is more important,” the British Palestinian artist said. “I try to reveal an undercurrent of hostility within something that usually looks inoffensive. It’s a way of making people question everything around them.”

While Kentridge received the award for the painting category, the South African artist is better known for his charcoal drawings and video installations such as More Sweetly Play the Dance, 2015, which comprises eight screens depicting a procession of travelers who march as music by South Africa’s African Immanuel Essemblies Brass Band plays in the background. In a review of his work, David Frankel described the piece as “both new and hauntingly familiar.” “It expertly mines both current and ancient forms of art and community as well as both novel and established devices within Kentridge’s practice, producing both wonder and recognition.”

Architects Williams and Tsien have designed numerous cultural and academic buildings since they began working together in 1977, including the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, the former American Folk Art Museum building in New York, and the Asia Society Hong Kong Center in Hong Kong. They also led the expansion of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, which reopened at the beginning of the year.

A German-born violinist, Mutter was invited to play with the Berlin philharmonic by the legendary conductor Herbert von Karajan when she was only thirteen years old. Since then, she has collaborated with leading conductors such as Seiji Ozawa, Zubin Mehta, and Daniel Barenboim and has received numerous honors, including four Grammys.

Artist Tamasaburo specializes in kabuki, a traditional Japanese theater production performed by an all-male ensemble. He often is cast to play the onnagata, or female roles, including the nursemaid Masaoka in Meiboku Sendai Hagi (The Precious Incense and Autumn Flowers of Sendai). Non-kabuki pieces he has performed include  Kumiodori, a Japanese performing art found on the Okinawa islands, and Chinese Kunqu opera.

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