Want to know who will be rocking the art world in the future? Rolex has just announced the finalists for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.
Visual Arts protégé, Thao-Nguyen Phan (left), Visual Arts mentor, Joan Jonas
Every two years, seven young stars from the world of art are given the chance of a lifetime—a spot on the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, which pairs rising talents with the most well-known figures in their chosen disciplines. This year, the artists could be mentored by composer Philip Glass, film director Alfonso Cuarón or architect Sir David Chipperfield. And, for the first time since the programme was launched in 2002, the list of protégés includes a name from Southeast Asia. Thao-Nguyen Phan from Vietnam, a visual artist who co-founded the collective Art Labor, which develops art projects in the local community, will be spending the next year working closely with her mentor, acclaimed New York artist Joan Jonas. Delighted to be paired with Jonas, Phan says that she has been moved by Jonas’ “extraordinary power to reinvent; being so ground-breaking from one work to the next.” And, Phan adds that the relationship will be “double-layered by the intimacy between two artistic souls and the complexity of shared history between Vietnam and the United States.” Jonas reveals how she also intends to push Phan during her year of mentorship: “I enjoy meeting young artists and I am curious about their concerns during this chaotic and difficult time. I hope to have a dialogue that might clarify thoughts and ideas. Also, to exchange with another, information previously hidden—and visit unknown spaces.” The previous cycle’s Visual Arts winner, Congolese artist Sammy Baloji, showed his work at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Who knows where Phan’s year with the legendary Joan Jonas may take her?