Jury unanimous: Johannes Vermeer Prize for visual artist Natasja Kensmil

Natasja Kensmil has won the Johannes Vermeer Prize 2021. The jury unanimously nominated the visual artist. The jury finds her work “healing, constructive and critical”.

In her work, Kensmil often makes the connection between heritage and current events. She regularly refers to historical themes on canvas and paper. “Kensmil reflects on the prevailing canon and brings new histories,” says the jury. “It does not daub, does not remove, does not ignore, but rather distorts.”

The Johannes Vermeer Prize is intended for artists from different disciplines who work in the Netherlands. For example, photographer Rineke Dijkstra won the prize last year. In 2019 that was theater maker Ivo van Hove.

Exceptional talent

According to the organization, the choice for Kensmil this year emphasizes “the important position of painting in Dutch history”. “With the many details, layers and nuances in her paintings, Natasja Kensmil confronts us with the dark sides of our human existence and our history.”

Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven will present the prize on 1 November, with a cash prize of 100,000 euros. That amount may be spent on a special project within her or his field of activity. The government created the prize in 2008 “to honor and promote exceptional artistic talent”.


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