J.P. Morgan unveiled a new exhibition of artworks by South African artists. The Abadali Art Development Programme was launched by the firm in 2018 in an effort to assist local artists with their professional development and achieving financial sustainability.
The programme selected 20 artists from 183 applicants. Of the 20, ten are relatively new artists with limited exposure in the art world. The other artists have spent at least five years creating artworks and have already held solo exhibitions of their work. The 92 pieces of artworks created over the course of the programme have been added to the renowned JP Morgan Chase Art Collection and installed in the J.P. Morgan Johannesburg and Cape Town offices. The aim is for the works to eventually be shared at the company’s other offices around the world to broaden the exposure for the artists.
J.P. Morgan invested financially in the programme, while also providing financial and entrepreneurial training, skills development workshops, mentorship and a monthly stipend to the artists.
Led by a team within the South African J.P. Morgan office, the project garnered assistance from the Arts and Culture Trust, and was collaborated on and supported by the JP Morgan Chase Art Collection overseen by Charlotte Eyerman, Director and Chief Curator, and implemented by Mark Roe, the Head Curator.
Ronelle Reddy, Vice President – IB Finance & Business Management, Sub-Saharan Africa at J.P. Morgan, says:
“One of our core principles as a firm is to invest in initiatives that have a lasting and sustainable impact in our communities. We do this through collaboration and evaluating how J.P. Morgan can use its expertise as a financial services firm to effect lasting change rather than only having a short-term impact. J.P. Morgan launched the Abadali Art Development Programme in support of the sustainable development of artists from disadvantaged backgrounds who produce fine art in South Africa. The aim is to highlight South African artists from communities that might not traditionally be known for their art. Marginalised communities tend to be overlooked when it comes to the arts, but we have seen that they produce great talent. The artists in the Abadali Art Programme have created inspirational pieces despite a lack of access to resources. We view these artists as important cultural contributors and see the programme as an investment in the future of South African art and job creation.”
Faatimah Mohamed-Luke, Abadali Art Development Programme participant and installation artist, says:
“This programme has helped me to not only gain wider exposure for my art and to benefit from working with mentors from the Arts and Culture Trust, but also to learn valuable entrepreneurship skills. I am aware that my creativity is a business and I refuse to prescribe to the ‘poor artist’ adage. I am therefore very grateful to J.P. Morgan for this opportunity. The financial support has made it viable to continue pursuing art and making an impact on the community that I work in.”
Simon Magic Zitha, a programme participant who was born in Bushbuckridge in rural Mpumalanga, says: “Making art is a powerful way for me to communicate with other people, particularly when I think of people from rural communities. I never understood the real meaning of contemporary art until I became an artist, and I would like to share that with other rural communities – to expose them to what art can be.”
As J.P. Morgan Chase’s head curator, Roe has global responsibility for the management of one of the oldest and most extensive corporate art collections in the world, the JPMorgan Chase Art Collection, started in 1959 by David Rockefeller. The collection includes more than 30,000 artworks installed in 450 offices worldwide and is comprised of a diverse range of paintings, drawings, prints, photography, sculpture, textiles and video art.
Roe says: “This programme is unique within J.P. Morgan and is a demonstration of our commitment to communities in South Africa. It demonstrates the real power of art to change people’s lives, and for financial services firms to make an impact in terms of mentorship, investment and collaboration. For these reasons I believe it is valuable not only to the artists who have been part of it, but also to J.P. Morgan, South Africa and the rest of the world. This collection is truly global and the programme is seen as a pilot for us to consider roll out in other parts of the world.”
Reddy adds: “Mark’s curatorial vision for the programme has been enormously valuable. Together with the three mentors from the Arts and Culture Trust, they have assisted the artists to develop not only their work, but also their understanding of the broader art industry. The programme has helped these artists to build professional skills and connections that will enable them to continue to flourish in their careers.”
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