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Young, up-and-coming SA artists shine at 2013 Absa L’Atelier Art Awards



Ncaphayi with the Gerard Sekoto Award for his work Migrant Workers’ Hostels

The 2013 Absa L’Atelier Art Competition drew to a close on Wednesday (17 July 2013) with four exceptionally talented young South African artists being honoured for their outstanding contemporary pieces.

Three of the works reflected the country’s past in terms of its history and traditions, providing social and political comment, while the fourth explored the universal theme of death and transformation in a novel and engaging way.

Pauline Gutter (Bloemfontein) took the overall award and main prize for her piece, Die Huweliksaansoek, while Mongezi Ncaphayi (Johannesburg) was awarded the Gerard Sekoto Award, sponsored by the French Institute of South Africa, the French Embassy and Alliance française, for the most promising artist with an annual income less than R60 000 for his work, Migrant Workers’ Hostels.

The two Merit Award winners were Jaco van Schalkwyk (Johannesburg), awarded for his mixed media installation Beloofde Land?/Promised Land?, and Kathleen Sawyer (Port Elizabeth), recognised for Somata.

Now in its 28th year, the Absa L’Atelier Art Competition, in partnership with the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), is rated as the longest-running and most influential art contest on the continent. It pays homage to both established and emerging young local artists and their compelling artistic vision.

Ncaphayi’s etching, Migrant Workers’ Hostels, meanwhile focuses on the migration of, and first establishments of ‘urban’ settlements for, black labourers, especially the mine workers. This stems from the artist growing up in what used to be a mining town, and his fascination with the history of migration. The work commemorates those who died in the townships between 1990 and 1994, as such these hostels are perceived as living monuments.

Ncaphayi won a return air ticket to Paris and three months’ stay in the Cité Internationale des Arts, sponsored by Alliance Française, The French Institute and the French Embassy.

The competition is open to young artists between the ages of 21 and 35, and attracts entries from across the country, which is open to public viewing during the regional adjudication rounds.

An exhibition of the top 100 works will be on public display from 18 July to 22 August 2013 at the Absa Gallery, Upper Ground Level, Absa Towers North, 161 Main Street. Members of the public are requested to bring their ID books along for parking and entry purposes.

 

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