22 oct 2021

Who is the artist Boris Kurdi, 22nd winner of the Pernod Ricard Foundation Prize?

Yesterday evening, at the end of the Paris Art Week, the Pernod Ricard Foundation unveiled the 22nd winner of its annual prize for a young French performing artist in its new space inaugurated a few months ago. Noted for his ultra-precise drawings depicting the shortcomings of our society with lightness, Boris Kurdi joins the prestigious list of winners of this award since 1999, such as Tatiana Trouvé and Clément Cogitore.

The Paris Art Week was rich in surprises and discoveries. As the excitement of the resumption of cultural events is felt, at FIAC like in the capital’s museums or other fairs such as Asia Now and Paris Internationale, several artists are experiencing institutional consecration this week through the multiple awards lined up at the end of October. After the Marcel Duchamp Prize, awarded this Monday to Lili Reynaud Dewar, the Emerige Revelations Exchange, which returned on Tuesday to the young painter Hugo Capron, and the Grand Prix at the Salon de Montrouge, whose Lívia Melzi The Pernod Ricard Foundation Prize was announced on Thursday, closing the week last night, rewarding as usual a young talent from the French art scene under the age of forty. Among the nine finalists of this 22nd edition of the prize, which included Tarek Lakhrissi, Gina Folly and Carlotta Bailly-Borg, the jury finally chose the artist Boris Kurdi. The Frenchman joins the prestigious list of laureates drawn up by the foundation since 1999, made up of artists such as Tatiana Trouvé, Mircea Cantor, Clément Cogitore and Marcos Avila Forero, who was the lucky winner of the last edition presented in 2019.


At 31 years old, the Paris-based artist has been noticed for several years for his enigmatic and ultra-precise approach to drawing. A resident of the Drawing Factory in recent months, the young man creates graphic works where the world of children mixes with that of adults, where the iconography of the imagination meets that of signage or advertising, establishing a grating graphic double language where current issues are transformed into almost sympathetic allegories. Letters in capital letters are covered with colored hairs, two-euro coins are set ablaze or adorned with a sardonic smile, while menacing eyes pierce a window with their destructive rays… A former student of philosophy and Germanic civilization, the artist takes up many theoretical concepts in his work as much as he inserts comments on society and politics, as well as on corruption in the world of finance. Under his pencil or graphite lines, these themes take on forms that are both soft and extremely precise and blend with the various textures of their supports – embossed, hatched or even ribbed – to give them a particular relief.

View of Boris Kurdi’s installation in the exhibition “Bonaventure” at the Pernod Ricard Foundation (2021). Photo: Thomas Lannes

At the Pernod Ricard Foundation, alongside the works of the eight other finalists brought together until October 30 by curator Lilou Vidal, Boris Kurdi presents an installation composed of a sculpture on the floor and a large drawing on the wall. Shaped like the number 1, its geometric and reflective volume refers to the original number as much as to that of the winner, and is formally reminiscent of the works of the great names of American minimalism such as Tony Smith. Here, however, this rigid and cold appearance comes alive with the design it faces: over the course of five coloured backgrounds, a mole digs its burrow from right to left, as if enclosed by the frame of this polyptych. Thanks to the Pernod Ricard Foundation prize, the artist will receive the sum of 15,000 euros to develop a personal project abroad and will see one of his works join the collections of the Centre Pompidou. This support is reminiscent of one of the main missions of the foundation, which was summed up yesterday by its president Alexandre Ricard: “art only makes sense if it is shared.”



Boris Kurdi’s work can be seen alongside that of the eight other finalists in the exhibition “Bonaventure (Tampering with the Worlds)”, until October 30 at the Pernod Ricard Foundation, Paris 8th.

View of Boris Kurdi’s installation in the exhibition “Bonaventure” at the Pernod Ricard Foundation (2021). Photo: Thomas Lannes