Gina Proenza was awarded the 2018 Helvetia Art Prize last year. As well as a sum of money, she also receives the opportunity to display her work at LISTE – Art Fair Basel. She is in good company there. The fair for young art and newcomer galleries is seen as the most important discovery fair for contemporary art collectors.
The young artist with Columbian roots completed her bachelor’s degree in “Arts Visuels” at the Haute Ecole d’Art in Lausanne. For a few months she has been commuting between her home in Lausanne and Paris, where she works as a curator in the “Doc” studios. Her big dream is to have her own studio. “I am currently primarily working on the train, in cafés and libraries, and sometimes in my friends’ studios.” But that is not a long-term solution. The artist hopes that she will soon find somewhere suitable to work.
Gina Proenza is fascinated by what she comes across in the world. She loves elements that sound fictitious even though they are real. She researches them and conjures up her own stories, which she then scenographically transforms through her sculptures.
For LISTE in Basel, Gina Proenza created an exhibition with the title “a a e o”. It features an ensemble of minimalistic sculptures with moving tongues and stylised mouths. “The tongues are a symbol of language.” With her idiosyncratic art, which is quite consciously artificial, the artist raises the question of the linguistic ambivalence of traditional narratives.
The Helvetia Art Prize is a significant part of the international insurance group Helvetia’s commitment to art. The sponsorship prize has been awarded to an up-and-coming artist annually since 2004. The prize money of CHF 15,000 is intended to help with the start of the artist’s professional career. In addition, an appearance at LISTE – Art Fair Basel enables the young artists to present their creations to a wide audience of experts and to develop a network. Helvetia, which also insures art, has one of the most important collections of contemporary Swiss art, with a 75-year history. The collection focusses on paintings, drawings and photography.