ANA Spotlight

Julius Agbaje and Asmaa Jama Clinch Access ART X Prize 2023

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

ARTX Lagos, in collaboration with Access Holdings, proudly announces Julius Agbaje and Asmaa Jama as the winners of the Access ART X Prize 2023 for Nigeria and Africa/Diaspora, respectively. Each recipient will receive a $10,000 grant for an exhibition at ART X Lagos 2024.

Additionally, the Nigerian winner, Julius Agbaje, will undertake a three-month residency at Gasworks, London, while the African/Diasporan winner, Asmaa Jama, will enjoy a residency at Yinka Shonibare’s GAS Foundation in Lagos. Both artists will benefit from tailored memberships and a unique opportunity for cultural exchange.

In a heartfelt statement, Julius Agbaje, brimming with joy, shared the news with his family and expressed his profound gratitude by stating,

“My greatest thanks go to God, who has given me the opportunity and talent to be able to project my thoughts and share my gifts with the rest of the world. Secondly, I would like to thank and dedicate this prize to my parents, who have been with me from the start. The support I have received from them has been overwhelming, from changing my course from computer engineering to becoming an artist in a world that does not appreciate art much. The support has been immense.”

“What are “What are the odds?” Acrylic on canvas (Photo Credit: Julius Agbaje)

“I am grateful for your care, your creative feedback, and for believing in my work. Thank you for listening to my presentation and connecting with my thoughts, projects, and art. Thank you for sharing my experience; I will never forget this experience.” He said, further expressing his gratitude to the ARTX team, mentors, and judges.

Julius Agbaje, a Nigerian conceptual artist, creates impactful paintings. With the mantra “Art as a tool for change,” Agbaje’s works address social issues and human connections. His creative process, akin to a life journal, captures his evolution and interactions, often using pipes as metaphors for human interconnectedness. Passionate about justice, Agbaje’s satirical yet educative artworks became symbols during the 2020 End SARS protests. His paintings grace collections worldwide, and he continues to impact his community through art.

Asmaa Jama

Asmaa Jama, the African/Diasporan winner, is a Danish-born Somali artist, poet, and co-founder of Dhaqan Collective. They also expressed gratitude for having been selected as this year’s winner and for the recognition of their art. Their diverse artistic endeavours span film, writing, and theatre, with notable works like “Before We Disappear” (2021) and “The Season of Burning Things” (2021). Esteemed institutions have commissioned Jama’s literary contributions, earning recognition such as the Brunel African Poetry Prize (2022) and the New Poets Prize (2022). Their involvement in theatre includes contributions to “Mailles” and “Akal.” As a Film London FLAMIN fellow (2022) and a resident artist at Somerset House Studios, Jama brings a wealth of creativity to the art world.

The finalists actively engaged in a two-day “Finalist Forum,” where they attended interactive workshops to nurture their presentation skills and gain valuable artistic insights. Subsequently, they presented their work to the Prize Jury, which then selected the eventual winners.

“Before We Disappear” by Asmaa Jama (Photo Credit: @asmaa_floats)

Speaking on the ARTX Prize, Tokini Peterside-Schwebig, founder of ART X Collective, stated:

“Our vision to showcase the depth and diversity of contemporary African art to the world revealed a critical necessity, which was the need to nurture and guide emerging talent on the continent to ensure their lasting impact. The birth of the Access ART X Prize was fueled by an ardent commitment to bridging the gap for early-career artists, empowering them to evolve into adept, globally relevant creatives.

We are elated that this platform has endured and thrived over the years, marked by substantial growth. The increasing number of annual applications underscores both the vital need for our support and the tangible impact we are having. None of this would be possible without the invaluable support of our sponsor, Access Holdings, who has trusted us and supported our vision for the past eight years.

In 2022, the Access ART X Prize expanded its scope to include artists from beyond Nigeria. This expansion marked a milestone in fostering diverse creativity and amplifying the voices of rising talents across the continent. The 2023 edition of the prize garnered an overwhelming response, with over 3,500 applications received from around the world during the 4-week application period. This surge in applications reflects the growing importance of the Access ART X Prize in the art ecosystem and its ability to attract diverse talent from all corners of the globe.”

In addition, Herbert Wigwe, Group CEO of Access Holdings PLC, viewed the Access ART X Prize not just as an accolade but as a catalyst for change. 

“At Access Holdings, we view the Access ART X Prize as more than an accolade; rather, as a catalyst for change. It is a testament to our unwavering commitment to foster creativity and propel the African art industry towards unprecedented heights.”

“The Prize also embodies a promise that we will continue to support and nurture the burgeoning talents in Africa; foster diversity, inclusivity, and cross-cultural exchange within the African art scene, and deepen collaborations with partners that bring us closer towards our vision of shaping a brighter, more inclusive future for all.” He emphasized

Also receiving special recognition as Honourable Mentions by the jury are, Roanna Tella in the Nigerian category and Lawrence Mwangi in the African/Diaspora category. Both artists will be awarded $2,000 prizes along with personalized mentorship.

The Access ART X Prize 2023 jury, comprising Babajide Adeniyi-Jones, Daudi Karungi, Gabi Ngcobo, Emeka Ogboh, Barthélémy Toguo, and Yesomi Umolu, adds further prestige to this accolade. Julius Agbaje and Asmaa Jama join previous winners, including Dafe Oboro, Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński, Chigozie Obi, and others, in the impactful legacy of this distinguished prize.

For more, visit


Derrick Chidumebi is a creative writer and growth marketer hailing from Lagos, Nigeria. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Chemistry from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria, and is the founder of The Eko Place, a media/marketing agency based in Lagos, Nigeria. Currently, he serves as a writer for Art News Africa.

Write A Comment