Rolex taps creative stars for its 2022 mentorship program


When it began 20 years ago, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative was touted as the company’s intention to fill a void in arts philanthropy – to ensure that the world’s artistic heritage is transmitted personally, in the irreplaceable and centuries-old tradition of the master and protected.

The debut of the first class of mentors – which included novelist and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison as well as director and playwright Robert Wilson – made it clear that this was no superficial pursuit.

Over the next two decades, the initiative grew into a prestigious program where 63 talented protégés from around the world were paired with world-renowned artists in their discipline.

Ghanaian artist El Anatsui won the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.
Thomas Bertelsen

The biennial announcement of its next cycle of mentors and proteges has become, in some quarters, a much-anticipated event, much like nominations for the charts; the latter were revealed last month at a ceremony at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and, as you might expect, they are a very diverse, international and ridiculously accomplished group.

El Anatsui, a Ghanaian artist currently living in Nigeria who won the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion for lifetime achievement, was paired with Bronwyn Katz, a South African artist working primarily with materials found.

Portrait of Anne Lacaton.
French architect Anne Lacaton will be featured in the mentorship program.
©Rolex/Audoin Desforges

Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Anne Lacaton will mentor Lebanese-American Fulbright Prize-winning architect Arine Aprahamian, who received her master’s degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley.

Bernardine Evaristo, who was the first black woman and the first black British woman to win the Booker Prize (for her 2019 novel ‘Girl, Woman, Other’, which was a national bestseller and won numerous other literary awards ) is paired with Ayesha Harruna Attah, an award-winning Ghanaian, Senegal-based author of five historical fiction novels that challenge existing preconceptions about African mores.

Portrait of Bernadine Evaristo.
Bernardine Evaristo is a Booker Prize winning author.
Audoin Desforges

One of the most daring Chinese filmmakers working today, Jia Zhangke, will team up with Rafael Manuel, a Filipino filmmaker who divides his time between Manila, London and Amsterdam, and whose short film « Filipiñana » won the Silver Bear jury at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival.

Portrait of Jia Zhangke.
The audacious Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke will also be there.

Currently working on a feature version of this film, Manuel says he hopes to be « shaped and challenged on a holistic level, shaken to the core » by his mentorship.

Five-time Grammy Award winner Dianne Reeves found herself in fashion last month after actress Sheryl Lee Ralph uttered several lines from her 1994 song ‘Endangered Species’ as part of her speech. acceptance of the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (« Abbott Elementary »), will mentor South Korean modern jazz singer and songwriter Song Yi Jeon, who says Reeves is « my greatest great influence, which guided me as a jazz singer and whom I admire the most ».

Portrait of Diane Reeves
Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Dianne Reeves will mentor two other musicians.
Bart Michiels

These duos commit to a minimum of six weeks of creative collaboration over the course of two years in a one-on-one mentoring relationship that often results in lifelong friendships.

It also organically created a global community of creatives, alumni of this prescient program who might not have crossed paths otherwise.

This, says Rolex, is « one of its greatest achievements ».


Back to top button