K21 Global Art Award - Freunde der Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen

The Freunde der Kunstsammlung NRW, in cooperation with the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen and thanks to a generous financial support from the Reydan + Roger Weiss Foundation, award the new annual art prize “K21 Global Art Award”

The annual K21 Global Art Award celebrates the vision and courage of emerging and mid career artists. It will be offered to internationally recognized artists, aged 45 and under. The award highlights the museums acquisition policy to further enrich the K21 collection with significant international voices.

K21 is dedicated to current developments in international contemporary art and features paintings, drawings, immersive installations, video works and multi-disciplinary approaches by renowned contemporary artists from all regions, including Ed Atkins, Lutz Bacher, Cao Fei, Hito Steyerl, Raqs Media Collective and Ai Weiwei. Beyond presenting its collection and staging groundbreaking international exhibitions, the museum engages in critical debates with diverse communities and is eager to broaden the understanding of art and culture.

For several years now, K20 K21 has been undergoing a process of opening up. A central aim of the museum is not only to honour the heritage of its existing collection but also to continue to think about the museum and collection within the scope of societies changes, further developing the K21 collection with the criteria of polyphony, globality and digitalisation.

The K21 Global Art Award has a jury of five renowned museum directors and curators from across the world. The 2022/23 jury consists of Doryun Chong (M+, Hong Kong); Koyo Kouoh (Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Capetown); Omar Kholeif (Sharjah Art Foundation, Government of Sharjah, UAE); Oluremi C. Onabanjo, The Museum of Modern Art, New York); and Jochen Volz (Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo).

Each Jury Member has been invited to nominate two artists working in all media ranging from painting, serial works on paper, video works to fully immersive installations. This list of ten artists will then be submitted to the Friends of K20 K21 Selection Committee, who in turn selects the winning artist.

The Friends of K20K21 will acquire works of art by the selected artist for a high five-digit amount. This year, works worth 70,000 euros were acquired. This work of art will then be given on permanent loan to the collection of K20K21. The Award 2023 will be presented at K21.

Award winner K21 Global Art Award 2023

Senzeni Marasela



  • Doryun Chong
  • M+
  • Hong Kong

Doryun Chong is Deputy Director and Curatorial and Chief Curator of M+, a new museum of visual culture that opened its Herzog & de Meuron–designed building in 2021 in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District. Appointed as the inaugural Chief Curator in 2013, Chong oversees all curatorial activities and programs, including acquisitions, exhibitions, learning and public programs, and digital initiatives encompassing the museum’s three main disciplinary areas of design and architecture, moving image, and visual art. Some of the exhibitions he has curated or co-curated at M+ include Mobile M+: Live Art (2015), Tsang Kin-Wah: The Infinite Nothing, Hong Kong in Venice (2015), Samson Young: Songs for Disaster Relief World Tour (2018), Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint (2018), and Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now (2022). Prior to joining M+, Chong worked in various curatorial capacities at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (2003–2009) and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009–2013).

  • Koyo Kouoh
  • Zeitz MOCAA
  • Cape Town

Koyo Kouoh is the Executive Director and Chief Curator of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town since May 2019. Prior to this appointment, she was the founding Artistic Director of RAW Material Company, a centre for art, knowledge and society in Dakar, Senegal. She has organised meaningful and timely exhibitions such as Body Talk: Feminism, Sexuality and the Body in the Works of Six African Women Artists, first shown at Wiels in Brussels, Belgium in 2015. She curated Still (the) Barbarians, 37th EVA International, the Ireland Biennal in Limerick in 2016 and participated in the 57th Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, with the deeply researched exhibition project Dig Where You Stand (2018), a show within a show, drawn from the collections of the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History. She was the initiator of the research project Saving Bruce Lee: African and
Arab Cinema in the Era of Soviet Cultural Diplomacy, co-curated with Rasha Salti at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, Russia, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Germany (2015-2018). Active in the critical field of the arts community in a pan-African and international scope, Kouoh has a remarkable list of publications under her name, including the forthcoming Shooting Down Babylon (2022), the first monograph of the work of South African artist Tracey Rose; Breathing out School: RAW Académie (2021); Condition Report on Art
History in Africa (2020); Word!Word?Word! Issa Samb and The Undecipherable Form (2013); and Condition Report on Building Art Institutions in Africa (2012), to name a few. She has served as Curator of the Educational and Artistic Programme of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London, United Kingdom and New York, United States, from 2013 to 2017 as well as on the curatorial teams for documenta 12 (2007) and documenta 13 (2012). Kouoh is the recipient of the Grand Prix Meret Oppenheim 2020, the Swiss Grand Award for Art that honours achievements in the fields of art, architecture, critique and exhibitions. During her tenure at Zeitz MOCAA, her curatorial work focuses on in-depth solo exhibitions by African and African-descent artists. As such, she has organised exhibitions with Otobong Nkanga, Johannes Phokela, Senzeni Marasela, Abdoulaye Konate and Tracey Rose. She lives and works between Cape Town, South Africa; Dakar, Senegal; and Basel, Switzerland.

  • Omar Kholeif
  • Sharjah Art Foundation
  • United Arab Emirates

María Mercedes González was appointed general director of the Medellín Museum of Modern Art (MAMM) in 2012. Establis-hed in 1978, the Museum is a non-profit, private institution, exhibiting works of contemporary and modern artists of the twentieth century, mostly of Colombian origin. The institution takes on issues that are culturally, socially, politically, and aesthetically relevant, drawing from the landscape of the contemporary arts while maintaining high-quality production and a tight connection to the local context. Since assuming her post, Ms. González has led a building expansion project and implemented an extensive programing reorientation. Prior to MAMM, Ms. Gon-zález was an advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and served as cultural at-taché at the Colombian Embassy in Bue-nos Aires, Argentina. She received her BA in Political Science from Javeriana Uni-versity, Bogotá, and an MA in Media Stu-

  • Oluremi C. Onabanjo
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • New York

Oluremi C. Onabanjo is a curator and scholar of photography and the Arts of Africa. She works at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, as an Associate Curator in the Department of Photography, where she has curated the exhibition Projects: Ming Smith, serves as co-chair of the Early Modern Working Group, and is the 2022 Cisneros Institute Curatorial Research Fellow. The former Director of Exhibitions and Collections for The Walther Collection, Onabanjo has organized exhibitions across Africa, Europe, and North America. She was a member of the curatorial team for the 8th Triennial of Photography Hamburg (2022), and is editor of Marilyn Nance: Last Day in Lagos, shortlisted for the 2022 Paris Photo Aperture Photobook Award, and author of Ming Smith: Invisible Man, Somewhere, Everywhere. She lectures internationally on photography and curatorial practice, and her writing appears in Aperture, The New Yorker, The PhotoBook Review, Tate Etc., as well as publications by The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art, RISD Museum, and The Studio Museum in Harlem, amongst others.

  • Jochen Volz
  • Pinacoteca de São Paulo
  • Sao Paolo

Jochen Volz is the General Director of Pinacoteca de São Paulo. He was the curator of the Brazilian Pavilion at the 57th Biennale di Venezia (2017) and was the chief curator of the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo (2016). Between 2012 and 2015 he was Head of Programmes at the Serpentine Galleries in London. Prior, he was a curator at the Instituto Inhotim, Minas Gerais, since 2004, where he has served as General Director between 2005 and 2007 and Artistic Director between 2007 and 2012. In 2009, he organized Fare Mondi / Making Worlds, the international section of the 53rd International Venice Biennale together with Daniel Birnbaum. In 2006, he guest curated for the 27th São Paulo Biennial. Between 2001 and 2004, he was curator of Portikus Frankfurt am Main. As a critic he is writing for magazines and catalogues.


  • Prof. Dr. Susanne Gaensheimer
  • Director
  • Kunstsammlung NRW
  • Robert Rademacher
  • Chairman
  • Freunde der Kunstsammlung
  • Leopold Freiherr von Diergardt
  • Board member
  • Freunde der Kunstsammlung
  • Anna-Alexandra Pfau
  • Advisory Board Member
  • Freunde der Kunstsammlung
  • Gabriel Sulkowski
  • Board member
  • Freunde der Kunstsammlung
  • Dr. Vivien Trommer
  • Head of Collections
  • Kunstsammlung NRW

Established in 1969, the mission of the Friends of K20 K21 is to provide support to the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (K20 K21) and in particular to facilitate the expansion of the permanent collection. Following the advice of the director of the museum, the Friends finance the acquisition of selected artworks on behalf of the museum. While artworks by the Friends remain in their collection they are on permanent loan to the museum without restrictions. Thanks to the community of Friends, significant works by for example Park Seo-Bo, Max Ernst, Isa Genzken, Candida Höfer, Ellsworth Kelly, Alice Neel, Cy Twombly, Ai Weiwei and many more have entered the state collection in recent decades and will continue likewise in the future.

The 2022/23 Selection Committee Members for the K21 Global Art Award are Prof. Dr. Susanne Gaensheimer, Director K20 K21; Robert Rademacher, chairman of the Friends of K20 K21; Leopold Freiherr von Diergardt, board member of the friends, Anna-Alexandra Pfau, advisory board member and Gabriel Sulkowski, board member of the Friends. Important support is given to the Committee Members by Dr. Vivien Trommer, Head of Collections of the Kunstsammlung. Particular financial support for the K21 Global Art Award has come from the Reydan + Roger Weiss Stiftung.

The establishment of the K21 Global Art Award is but one example of the creative and sustained approach of the Friends of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in supporting the endeavours of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen.