People say that art is what breathes soul into our everyday lives. That art is what makes life interesting and captivating. Artistic heritage is critical to our life and future, and must be encouraged and preserved.
In 2002, Rolex created the Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative specifically to transfer that knowledge and passion from one generation to the next. Rolex believes that ”…art is a continuum, an accumulation of past experiences over generations.” The pairing of a Mentor and Protégé not only allows the transfer of knowledge, but through the shared passion, fosters collaboration and enhanced creativity.
The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative covers various disciplines including architecture, dance, film, literature, music, theatre, and visual arts. For the 2023-2024 programme, the Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative has announced the five protégés chosen for the programme.
In the field of visual arts, mentor El Anatsui has chosen South African visual artist Bronwyn Katz. Katz is known for her use of found natural materials such as iron ore, or salvaged manufactured objects like foam mattresses and bed springs. She uses these natural and underused materials in her sculpture, installation, and video, and performance work. She won Africa’s First National Bank Art Prize in 2019, and she is a founding member of iQhiya, a network of 11 black women artists.
In the field of architecture, mentor Anne Lacaton has chosen Lebanese-Armenian architect, designer, and researcher Arine Aprahamian as her protégé. Aprahamian focuses on innovation, affordability, and sustainability through her architecture designs. In 2018, she and partner Adrian Müller founded MüLLER APRAHAMIAN, an architecture and design studio that focuses on modern, cutting-edge buildings while still keeping an eye on the past. A recently launched project involves exploration of clay, a traditional and ancient building material, for innovative and domestic alternatives.
In filmmaking, mentor Jia Zhang-Ke has chosen Filipino filmmaker Rafael Manuel for the programme. Manuel has won numerous awards for his efforts in film, including the Silver Bear Jury Prize at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival, for his short film Filipiñiana. The short is now the basis of Manuel’s first feature film. He also won the Prince Claus Seed Award for Development and Culture, the Script and Development Award from the Hubert Bals Fund, and the Ani ng Dangal Award from the Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
In the field of literature, Bernadine Evaristo has chosen Ghanian writer Ayesha Harruna Attah as her protégé. Attah has already published five historical fiction novels, including Harmattan Rain (2009) and Zainab Takes New York (2022), that challenge preconceptions of African mores. Attah was a finalist in the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, was long-listed for the Prix Les Afriques, and short-listed for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing prize.
In the field of music, Dianne Reeves chose South Korean singer and composer Song Yi Jeon. Jeon is known for her hypnotic voice and musical improvisations. Having studied music at the University of Music and Fine Art in Austria, at the Academy of Music in Switzerland, and the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Jeon has honed her talent in music. She was the first Quincy Jones CJ&E fellow and was also awarded the Billboard Endowed Award.
As Rebecca Irvin, head of the mentoring programme, said, “Rolex is deeply grateful to the mentors for their commitment to advancing the artistry of the next generation through the irreplaceable tradition of individual exchange and inspiration.”