Louvre Abu Dhabi and Richard Mille has revealed Nabla Yahya as the winner of the third edition of the Richard Mille Art Prize at an exclusive ceremony that took place at Louvre Abu Dhabi on 24 January.
Yahya was one of eight artists shortlisted to showcase her work, SoftBank, in the Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here 2023 exhibition, which opened to the public in November 2023. The artist accepted her award and prize of around AED 220,300 at the ceremony.
Abu Dhabi- born Nabla Yahya is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice spans celluloid, earth, and the ethereal, i.e. video, space, and text. For her submission piece, SoftBank, Yahya uses a three-dimensional cartographic representation of the Suez Canal to highlight the neglected details and interrogate the obscure histories around the initial construction of the canal (1859-1869).
Yahya was selected by a distinguished six-member jury, led by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, an Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Chairman of UAE Unlimited, an art collector, and a patron of the Centre Pompidou, the British Museum and Sharjah Art Foundation.
Joining him are Dr. Souraya Noujaim, Director of the Islamic Arts department at Musée du Louvre in France, and former Director for Scientific, Curatorial and Collections Management at Louvre Abu Dhabi; Maya El Khalil, independent curator and art advisor, former Founding Director of Athr Gallery in Jeddah, and curator of Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here 2023; Clare Lilley, Director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the selector of the annual Frieze Sculpture in London’s Regent’s Park 2012-22 and a trustee of Art UK, London, the George Rickey Foundation, New York, and the Jupiter Artland Foundation, Edinburgh; Dr. Guilhem André, Acting Director for Scientific, Curatorial and Collections Management at Louvre Abu Dhabi, seasoned museum professional, expert archaeologist and art historian; and Mohammed Kazem, a renowned Emirati artist previously shortlisted for the 2021 edition of Art Here.
His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Louvre Abu Dhabi, said: “Part of our driving mission is to ensure we support and empower artists in Abu Dhabi, the UAE and beyond, providing the conditions for creative innovation and artistic expression to flourish. The Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here exhibition and accompanying Richard Mille Art Prize are an important platform for GCC-based contemporary artists to demonstrate the talent present in the region, further raising Abu Dhabi’s profile as a centre for culture and creativity.”
Peter Harrison, CEO of Richard Mille EMEA, said: “In its third edition, Nabla Yahya proudly joins the Richard Mille Art Prize winning roster. Her figurative depiction of this year’s theme Transparencies demonstrated her passion for architecture and uncovered the history behind the construction of the Suez Canal. SoftBank is testament to Nabla’s diligent work in research and development towards a concept worthy of the winning title.”
Maya El Khalil, curator of Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here 2023, said: “Each artist in the exhibition provided a surprising and novel engagement with the theme. The multidimensionality of Nabla Yayha's work ultimately made the award a unanimous decision. SoftBank approaches the idea of Transparencies indirectly – interrogating difficult histories that are treated as unseen when they should be confronted. The details of the work shed light on the invisible currents of finance, trade, and labour that structure the region. It is both a brilliant response to the theme and a significant work with the astute complexity that is a hallmark of Nabla's practice and thinking – we are all excited to see what she does in future.”
Nabla Yayha, the winner of the third edition of The Richard Mille Art Prize, said: “I am deeply honored to receive the 2023 Richard Mille Art Prize. This recognition is a testament to the power of art to transcend boundaries and illuminate hidden histories. 'SoftBank' is not just an installation; it's a dialogue between the past and the present, a reflection on the Suez Canal's transformation. This award fuels my commitment to exploring untold stories and challenging perspectives through my work. Thank you to Louvre Abu Dhabi and Richard Mille Art Prize for championing creativity and providing a platform to contemporary artists like me.”
For its third edition, Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here 2023 invited artists to propose artworks addressing that year’s theme of Transparencies, exploring the dynamics of transparency as well as its material and perceptual significance.
Artworks featured in the third edition of Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here 2023 included: Waterdust by siblings Sawsan and Bahar Al Bahar; Remember to Forget by Alaa Tarabzouni; Flesh Memory by Sarah Brahim; Hiya (She) by Farah Behbehani; Anthropocene's Toll: A Planet Asphyxiated by Zahra Al Ghamdi; and Foraminifera by Hashel Al Lamki.
Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here and the Richard Mille Art Prize serve as a platform to showcase contemporary artists from the region working with a diversity of mediums. Each year, the exhibition sees several artists selected through an open call for proposals, each presenting an artwork that responds to a unique theme. The theme for the highly anticipated fourth edition (2024) of the Richard Mille Art Prize and Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here exhibition will be announced soon.