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Johannes Vermeer Prize 2021 awarded to visual artist Natasja Kensmil


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Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven of Education, Culture and Science today presented the Johannes Vermeer Prize 2021, the Dutch state prize for the arts, to visual artist Natasja Kensmil. At Het HEM in Zaandam, Minister Van Engelshoven handed over the trophy to Kensmil. Natasja Kensmil was praised by the jury for her work that is healing, edifying and critical at the same time.

Minister Van Engelshoven: "On the first day that museums reopened, I had the opportunity to see the Monument of the Regency Sisters at the Hermitage. And what I find so special is the way Natasja Kensmil shows that in history and painting certain aspects have not received the attention they need. She dares to tell the whole story in a sharp and nuanced way. Her work gives depth and adds great value to our painting, a very deserved winner of the Johannes Vermeer Prize."

The jury, chaired by Andrée van Es, unanimously nominated Natasja Kensmil. The jury said of her: 'painter who knows how to use a classical medium with great skill, and who at the same time with her paintings connects sharply to the current spirit of the times. The jury thus underlines the important position that painting occupies in Dutch history. The jury also praises the exceptional way in which she comments on heritage and connects it to current events.

Corona time

Against the backdrop of the ongoing corona crisis, this year's jury once again stressed the importance of the Johannes Vermeer Prize: 'The jury is acutely aware of the extraordinary impact of the past year on the individual artist, and expresses its admiration for all those who have reflected on it in solitude'.

Dutch state prize for the arts

The Johannes Vermeer Prize is the Dutch state prize for the arts and consists - in addition to the trophy - of 100,000 euros. The winner may spend that on a special project in his or her field of activity. The Dutch government established the prize in 2009 to honour and encourage exceptional artistic talent. It can be awarded to artists working in the Netherlands from all artistic disciplines.

Previous winners include opera director Pierre Audi, filmmaker and writer Alex van Warmerdam, photographer Erwin Olaf, visual artist Marlene Dumas, architect Rem Koolhaas, graphic designer Irma Boom, composer and director Michel van der Aa, visual artist and film director Steve McQueen, fashion designer Iris van Herpen, violinist Janine Jansen, theatre maker Ivo van Hove and photographer Rineke Dijkstra.)

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