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Prabhakar Pachpute wins Derek Williams Trust Artes Mundi Purchase Prize

National Museum Wales to be first UK institution to collect the artist’s work

Artes Mundi 9 artist Prabhakar Pachpute has been awarded The Derek Williams Trust Artes Mundi Purchase Prize.

The award enables a work of art by an Artes Mundi shortlisted artist to be acquired by Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales for its permanent collection of contemporary art. Previous recipients of the award have included Ragnar Kjartansson, Bedwyr Williams, Tanya Bruguera and Anna Boghiguian. Pachpute’s work is currently on display at National Museum Cardiff as part of the UK’s largest biennial international exhibition and art prize – Artes Mundi 9 – which runs until 5 September 2021.

Pachpute has exhibited internationally from São Paulo to Istanbul, from Barcelona to Brisbane, and yet this acquisition marks the first time that work by the Indian artist has been purchased by a museum or institution in the UK as well as a significant milestone in the ongoing development of an internationally significant contemporary art collection for Wales.

Rattling Knot (2020) and The Close Observer (2020) were selected for the award by a jury including Nick Thornton of National Museum Cardiff and Dr. Zoé Whitley of Chisenhale Gallery in London, alongside Artes Mundi. Together, these works form part of Pachpute’s presentation at Artes Mundi 9 and draw on a shared cultural heritage between Welsh and global mining communities including Pachpute’s own familial history, workers in the coal mines of central India for three generations.

In his work, Pachpute – who earlier this year was named one of the joint winners of the coveted Artes Mundi 9 Prize – harnesses the iconography of protest and collective action. He creates a visual language that critically reflects on the working conditions, relentless excavation, unequal social development, and land politics present within global economic systems, whereby hybrid figures are pictured within apocalyptic landscapes, as industry and toil continually subsume them.

Prabhakar Pachpute said: "I am deeply honoured and feel humbled to know about the decision of the Derek Williams Trust Artes Mundi Purchase Prize. The gesture of appreciation is very important for an artist to keep on working. This acknowledgement for my practice comes with more responsibility and it truly means a lot to me. I hope I will grow wiser with it."

Dr. Zoé Whitley, juror, Derek Williams Trust Artes Mundi Purchase Prize 2021, said: “Serving on the selection panel for this acquisition was such an honour. Upon considering each of the six artists' excellent bodies of work, it became clear this was also an opportunity to celebrate the unique and palpable impact of experiencing art in real life. Prabhakar Pachpute's paintings don't limit themselves to their surfaces but reach out and draw us in as viewers. His practice is a powerful reminder of how images can so radically transform the spaces we share, revealing common struggles and collective calls to action.”

David Anderson, Director General, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales said: Amgueddfa Cymru is delighted that the Derek Williams Trust Artes Mundi Purchase Prize has enabled us to acquire Prabhakar Pachpute's work for the national collection. Pachpute grew up in a coal-mining region of India and there are compelling connections between the landscapes and characters that inhabit his work and the histories and art that emerged from the mining communities in Wales. We look forward to exploring these connections in the years ahead and would like to thank the Derek Williams Trust for their vital support in ensuring internationally important art is accessible to audiences across Wales.”

Nigel Prince, Director, Artes Mundi, said: “The longstanding partnership between Artes Mundi and Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, so generously supported by the Derek Williams Trust, is one of which we are rightly proud. We are delighted the work continues in acquiring major pieces from the contemporary artists with whom we work, creating a significant legacy for the people of Wales. Congratulations to Prabhakar as the recipient for Artes Mundi 9.”

John Thomas-Ferrand, Chair of the Derek Williams Trust, said: “It gives the Derek Williams Trust great pleasure to support the ninth purchase prize from the Artes Mundi 9 exhibition. For thirty years the Trust has been supporting the acquisition for the people of Wales of modern and contemporary works of art, most of which are in the care of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.  Through this prize Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales is enabled to continue to build on the international collections established by some of its founding benefactors including, most notably, Gwendoline and Margaret Davies. The acquisition of a work by Prabhakar Pachpute joins a distinguished list including Tanya Bruguera, Berni Searle and Bedwyr Williams.”

As the artworks extend beyond the canvas onto the walls, Pachpute has worked with Artes Mundi and the National Museum Wales to create detailed documentation that will allow the work to be reinstalled at a later date as intended.

Artes Mundi 9, including Prabhakar Pachpute alongside work by Firelei Báez, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Meiro Koizumi, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz and Carrie Mae Weems, is currently on display at National Museum Cardiff and Chapter until 5 September with a screening programme of additional film and video works by shortlisted artists at g39.