It is clear to watch collectors and fans that Rolex prides itself on the exceptional quality of its watches. But that's not all, the Swiss luxury watch brand always strives for excellence in every aspect of its activities, be it watchmaking or partnerships. This is clear in Rolex's support for arts and culture over the years, having worked with some of the world’s most talented artists and leading cultural institutions to help perpetuate artistic heritage and bridge the past, present and future.
Since 2002, the brand has organised the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative to encourage renowned artists to inspire and mentor the next generation. Mentors and protégés are paired up for two years, which they spend in creative collaboration.
For the upcoming 2023-2024 cycle of this programme, Rolex has brought together five acclaimed artists, each specialising in a different craft or skill, along with five talented young professionals from around the world.
Get to know these mentor and protégé duos below.
Visual Arts: Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui and South African visual artist Bronwyn Katz
Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui is widely recognised for helping to redefine the global art world with Africa’s presence by raising its profile through his monumental sculptures and installations. He is known for his large-scale sculptures composed of thousands of folded and crumpled pieces of metal and other found materials bound together with copper wire.
He is Emeritus Professor in Sculpture at the University of Nigeria, an Honorary Royal Academician of the Royal Society of Arts and elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. El Anatsui has also been awarded the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale.
His protégé is South African visual artist Bronwyn Katz, who has established herself internationally. The Cape Town-based artist has incorporated sculpture, installation, video and performance in her acclaimed, nuanced body of work that uses found natural materials such as iron ore, or salvaged manufactured objects including foam mattresses and bed springs.
She has exhibited her work at London’s White Cube gallery in 2021 and the International Art Exhibition of the 2022 Venice Biennale, as well as won Africa’s prestigious First National Bank Art Prize in 2019. She is also a founding member of iQhiya, a network of 11 black women artists.