Art & Design

Lindokuhle Sobekwa announced  as the 2023 FNB Art Prize winner

August 16, 2023

FNB Art celebrates Lindokuhle Sobekwa and his documentary photography

FNB Art Joburg is proud to announce the winner of this year’s FNB Art Prize: Lindokuhle Sobekwa. An artist working in documentary photography, Sobekwa’s practice uses the camera to contemplate the present historically. Soaked in materialism and subtly resolving geographical and temporal distances, in his hand, the camera invites you to the moment the picture was taken.

Sobekwa makes history

Lindokuhle Sobekwa is the first photographer in history to win one of the most coveted art prizes on the continent: the FNB Art Prize. With this, he, Sobekwa becomes the first documentarian to join previous winners: 

FNB Art Prize winner -Lindokuhle Sobekwa. Image: Supplied

Born in Katlehong, Johannesburg, Sobekwa is from a generation of South African photographers born after the first democratic elections in 1994. Through his participation in the Of Soul and Joy photography education programme in Thokoza in 2012, he realised that the medium of photography would be essential in telling stories that interest and concern him.

“Thank you so much. It’s such a great honour to receive this prize. It means so much to me and, of course, the broader community of photography in South Africa. You know, photography has played such a pivotal role in South Africa in terms of exposing what was happening here,” Sobekwa said. He acknowledged that photography is in great hands and expressed his deepest gratitude to his family, mentor, Goodman Gallery and FNB.

FNB Art Joburg’s Commitment

As Africa’s leading and longest-running contemporary art fair, FNB Art Joburg’s mandate is to sustainably support and grow the continent’s cultural offering in ways that go beyond the fair. One of the ways this is achieved is through the annual FNB Art Prize.

FNB Art Prize winner, Lindokuhle Sobekwa.
Place of Peace.
Emgidini Kwa Masango, 2014.
Inkiet print on Baryta.
40.6 × 61 cm. Edition of 7 + 2AP
Courtesy of Lindokuhle Sobekwa + Goodman Gallery

“When you look back at the calibre of artists who have won this prize, they are awe inspiring to the public and their peers. They find new ways to use existing materials to interrogate important issues,” says FNB Art Joburg’s Managing Director, Mandla Sibeko. “Lindokuhle is no different because the way he works with the camera has managed to continue the reflective, conscious and delicate legacies left behind by the likes of Ernest Cole.”

Connecting the dots of kinship and allegiance within the photographic terrain, Sobekwa recalls the first time he encountered Ernest Cole’s work at 17. “House of Bondage became a great reference in terms of what I was pursuing in my language as a photographer,” said Sobekwa.

Journey of Recognition and Achievement

In 2014, his photo essay Nyaope was published in several prolific platforms, including the Mail & Guardian, Vice magazine’s annual Photo Issue and the Belgian publication De Standaard. After that, he received a scholarship to study at the Market Photo Workshop, where he refined his approach to the camera in both concept and technique. Since then, Sobekwa’s success has included being selected by the Magnum Foundation for Photography and Social Justice in New York to develop his project – I Carry Her Photo of Me. Two years later, the hand-made photo book was included in the African Cosmologies exhibition at the FotoFest Biennial Houston.

Image: Supplied

In 2022, the artist debuted his museum show at Huis Marseille in the Netherlands before becoming a member of Magnum Photos and receiving the inaugural John Kobal Foundation Fellowship.

As the winner of the 2023 prize, Sobekwa will receive a cash prize and a solo exhibition at Johannesburg Art Gallery, where the most extensive art collection on the continent resides.

Tickets to the fair are now available.

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