East Africa

Agnes Waruguru and Souad Abdelrassoul Enter the 2024 Norval Sovereign African Art Prize Shortlist

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Agnes Waruguru (Kenya) and Souad Abdelrassoul (Egypt) are the newest entries of the 2024 Norval Sovereign African Art Prize. Launched in 2021, this prize aims to boost the international visibility of African artists and generate funds for essential arts education programs across the continent.

Renowned for promoting African contemporary art, the Norval Foundation in Cape Town currently displays the shortlisted artworks of the artists. This exposure provides these talented artists a unique platform, inviting art enthusiasts and critics alike to engage with their compelling creations.

Agnes Waruguru(Kenya) is a contemporary, visionary artist whose work delves deep into the essence of objects. She intertwines identity and history seamlessly using unconventional materials such as cotton. Her process involves dyeing, pouring, and brushwork on cotton and other materials. Her art is an ode to traditional East African women as she inherited skills that celebrate their crafts. Additionally, she Incorporates beadwork, sewing, and embroidery in her works to craft a profound narrative. She links her identity with the rich tapestry of women’s heritage. Through her art, Waruguru transcends time, weaving a vibrant story of tradition and individuality.

Agnes Waruguru-TO PLANT A SEED AND WATCH IT GROW 1/1, 2022
Lithogram and Hahnemuhle Paper
27 x 38 cm. Image courtesy Circle Art Agency.

Souad Abdelrasoul( Egypt) is a versatile artist who seamlessly blends various mediums to create a fusion of abstract and figurative art. She works mainly with drawing, painting, sculpture, and graphic design. Her work unites human, animal, and vegetal elements, emphasizing the profound interconnectedness between all living beings and the earth. Tree-like figures with intricate veins, arteries, and colossal insect-like creatures merge on her canvases, compelling viewers to contemplate the essential link between our inner worlds and the external environment. Abdelrasoul masterfully conveys the symbiotic relationship between humanity and nature through her art.

Souad Abdelrasoul-MEN TREE, 2021
Acrylics on canvas
187 x 185 cm. Image courtesy of Circle Art Gallery.

The Norval Sovereign African Art Prize is an innovative approach to recognizing talent. The winners will win cash prizes to continue their distinct projects. Intriguingly, two separate awards comprise the prize: one determined by a panel of expert jurors deeply immersed in the art world, ensuring a thorough evaluation of the shortlisted artworks, and the other by the public’s choiceSimultaneously, the public has a voice, contributing to the prize through a voting mechanism that democratizes the selection process.

This inclusive methodology ensures that expert opinions and public sentiments converge, culminating in a celebration of informed and resonant art with diverse audiences. The prize honors the artists and actively engages art enthusiasts, fostering a sense of collective participation in recognizing outstanding creativity.

As the exhibition unfolds at the Norval Foundation, visitors are treated to a visual symphony where every stroke and every hue tells a story. Transitioning from one artwork to another, spectators are guided by the curated brilliance of Agnes Waruguru and Souad Abdelrassoul. This artistic journey, defined by creativity and vision, offers a glimpse into the evolving tapestry of African art.

The 2024 Norval Sovereign African Art Prize is a testament to the power of artistic expression. It also shines a light on its ability to transcend boundaries. Through their remarkable talent, Agnes Waruguru and Souad Abdelrassoul exemplify this prize’s spirit. Moreover, they illuminate the path for future generations of African artists.


Rose Mwikali Musyoki is a creative writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business and Finance from the University of Embu, Kenya, and is the founder of Bloom Inc, an art startup in Kenya. Currently, she works as a writer for Art News Africa.

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