The Iranian-German artist Nairy Baghramian has been awarded the 2022 Nasher Prize. The annual award is given by the Nasher Sculpture Centre in Dallas, US and brings with it $100,000.
Baghramian was born in Isfahan and emigrated to Germany as a child. Her soft-edged, colourful works evoke the human body, either in abstracted representations of body parts or prostheses to help an injured form. They are also deeply rooted in their context, derived from engagement with the local public or the architecture where she is exhibiting. They are gently transgressive, in their openness to play and alternate ways of thinking – not least humour as a mode of connection and irony.
“Baghramian’s visual language is rooted in traditions of sculptural form and shape,” says the British artist Phyllida Barlow, who served as a Nasher Prize juror this year. “But she transforms those traditions into profoundly personal relationships with diverse references – from the architectural to the anthropomorphic – where curvaceous, stretched, folded forms compete with linear structures, all delivered with Baghramian’s intensely researched and deft technical and material innovations.”
The prestigious prize is in its sixth year, and is devoted to sculpture – parameters that are observed liberally; past winners include Michael Rakowitz in 2020-2021 and Theaster Gates in 2018, both of whom engage, like Baghramian, with the social field as much as sculptural practice.
In addition to the cash prize, the award also offers a chance to study Baghramian’s work in further depth. A graduate symposium dedicated to her work will take place in January and is open to students by application.
The Nasher Sculpture Centre was established in 2003 from the collection of Raymond and Patsy Nasher, and includes around 300 works by Picasso, Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Alberto Giacometti, Barbara Hepworth, Joan Miro, Henry Moore, and Rodin, among others.