The Slovenia Times

Indian artist Sonawane wins Ljubljana Biennale Grand Prize

Tejswini Narayan Sonawane (right) receives the Grand Prize of the 35th Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts. Photo: Katja Kodba/STA

Tejswini Narayan Sonawane, an artist based in Solapur, India, has won the Grand Prize of the 35th Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts for her woodcuts on cloth from the series Femininity (2015) and A Migrant (2017).

Sonawane was honoured at the opening of the biennale on 15 September along with School of Mutants, a collaborative art and research platform, which won the research and residence prize, while special mentions went to the Ljubljana-based Krater Collective and Indian artist Soghra Khurasani.

The biennial's website describes Sonawane as a printmaker whose works reveal personal stories, emotional states, relationship dynamics and transformation.

"In a society where gender determines your freedoms, a certain inhibition of the self manifests itself in a loss of self-ownership. Many women in South Asia are confronted with such an existence, their lives determined by their male counterparts. These transitions of the Self as a migrant are thus states of transformation as one aspires to grow, find pathways, liberate and educate," the website reads.

An international judging panel which selected the winners said they wanted to recognise the "complexity of the spiritual dimension of her work and the epistemologies it expresses".

The School of Mutants, which was initiated in Dakar, Senegal, in 2018, was honoured for its installation I Am My Own Sun. The jury said it believed in the importance of a radical approach to collective education.

"The history and the legacy of the Non-Aligned Movement in Slovenia will be very beneficial for the future mutant forms of artists. The work conveys an important message as to why we are all here: I am my own sun."

The Ljubljana-based Krater Collective received a special mention for its work Feral Occupations, a project highlighting natural environment in abandon infrastructure.

A special mention also went to Khurasani for Shadows Under My Sky - 5, a woodcut on paper, and for Fragile 3, an etching on paper.

"Khurasani explores unity and identity through fragile landscapes observed from her studio near Baroda, India. Her works reveal her layered imagination through vivid colours and textures. They address religious and national identities, casteism, racism and gender bias using visual metaphors," the biennial's website says.

Organised by the International Centre of Graphic Arts, the Ljubljana Biennale explores the ecosystem of connections, solidarity and history of resistance that stems from the once close ties between post-independence Ghana and the former Yugoslavia. The main exhibition showcases about 50 artists.

Running until 14 January under the title From the Void Came the Gifts of the Cosmos, the biennial was curated by Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama in collaboration with several other artists and collectives.


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