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Sasol new Signatures Art Competition winner and merits award recipients

A RATHER busy news cycle week it turned out to be when Thursday saw members of the Fourth Estate treated to a breakfast occasion arranged for the purpose of the announcement of the overall winner of the 2019 SASOL New Signatures Art Competition, the runner-up as well as merit award recipients.

Sasol new Signatures Art Competition winner and merits award recipients

Akin to hitting two birds with one stone, personally, my curiosity got to indulge in two experiences I’ve been meaning to realize: visit Sasol’s state-of-the-art headquarters in the Sandton CBD and get on board one of the mid-range Protours luxury coaches!

Come to pass, those achievements were duly done with, in between ensconced, a welcome coffee and tea helping and a walkabout around the appealing building’s art gallery.  

After a briefing by Sasol’s curator, Cate Terblanche, around a foyer decorated with a Formula One racing car, we were then led to an automated kiosk where at the touch of a screen, everyone helped themselves to takeaway hot beverages for the journey to the capital.

Just over half an hour after cruising on the N1, we were the sooner in the sunny and warm suburb of Arcadia and driving into the parking lot of our destination, the Pretoria Art Museum – where staff welcomed us with catalogues containing all the information regarding the 2019 art competition.

National Chairperson of Sasol New Signatures, Professor Pieter Binsbergen, then gathered us around the exhibition space alongside the 2018 and 2019 winners, in addition to the runner-up and five merit award recipients. 

And upon the conclusion of a useful briefing, the academic invited questions before he led us to locations of the recognized works on display.  The 30th year of the contest’s existence being the end of Binsbergen’s decade old tenure, he also seized the moment to introduce the media to the man he would be handing the baton onto.

The new figure, Pfunzo Sidogi, is a lecturer in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at the Tshwane University of Technology, who holds a Master’s Degree in Fine Art (cum laude) from TUT and is currently completing a PHD in Visual Arts at Stellenbosch University.  The young academic’s biography also lists him as Chair of the de arte journal editorial board, and serving on the councils of the South African Visual Arts Historians, as well as the Association of Arts Pretoria.

A brief engagement with the down-to-earth Sidogi convinced me there and then that, gazing ahead, the chairpersonship of the competition has been handed over to the correct candidate.

Then was it the turn of yet another young arts practitioner to face the media’s glare.  Also of a humble demeanour, 24 year old Pretoria student, Patrick Rulore, presently wrapping up a National Diploma in Fine Arts at the Tshwane University of Technology, scooped the overall prize of R100 000 for a 101cm x 122cm oil on canvas painting labelled, Stage 4 moments – depicting a family gathered around a table within a dimly lit room, after the electricity supply had been disrupted.

The accompanying Limitless catalogue quotes Rulore thus, “This painting does not complain about load shedding, it rather celebrates dark moments given into by these circumstances. As soon as the electricity comes back, we resume our earlier activities in isolation.”  

The winner further explained in his artist statement, “In the beginning of this year (2019), South Africa had to endure extreme shortages in electricity supply with electricity scheduled in stages. This painting portrays stage 4, signifying that the electricity of a large sector of the community has been cut off.” 

A biography on Rulore tells of an artist who’s been around the block, and whose resume include being commissioned to paint a mural inside the Artem Mall in Sea Point, Cape Town, in 2017, as well as being a recipient of a painting award in the 2018 Thami Mnyele Art Competition.  Also a finalist in the 2017 and 2018 Sasol New Signatures Art Competition, Rulore has participated in exhibitions far and wide as Delhi, India and Pretoria.

Painting being his preferred medium, he explicated on his usage of oils and acrylics thus, “I am fascinated by the complexity of the human body (male and female) and attempt to discover its magic on the canvas. I always endeavour to capture the emotions and spirit of each individual I paint. To achieve this I manipulate and play with colours, textures, paint and brush marks”. 

An additional perk to his achievement is an opportunity to have a solo exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum in 2020. 

Durban-based visual artist, Luyanda Zindela, was announced as this year’s edition runner-up for a pen, ink and graphite on pine board work titled, Phowthah sis’ Mgabadeli – a contribution he encapsulated thus, “I have tried to capture the boundless intricacies of black skin using traditional pen and ink drawing techniques like cross-hatching and stippling.” 

For his effort, the Master’s student walks away with R25 000.

Rounding off the recognition roster are five Merit Award winners, namely, Nico Athene (for, After After Party, a work on DiaMount); Angelique Patricia Mary Bougaard (for, Crucified, a mixed media drawing on handmade paper); Cecilia Maartens-Van Vuuren (for, A presentiment, a dried roots installation); Kgodisho Moloto (for, Disguised mask, a pot scrubs and wire installation) and Mlamuli Eric Zulu (for, Enlightened art gathering, a mixed media).

Each took away R10 000.

Binsbergen noted: “It is interesting to note that in this the 30th year of Sasol sponsoring the longest-standing art competition in South Africa, our winner and runner-up have both been recognised for works created in traditional media – ink and paint. The works have been painstakingly laboured and show immense drive and passion”. 

Added Sasol Senior Manager: Group Brand Manager, Nozipho Mbatha, “On behalf of Sasol, we congratulate all the 2019 Sasol New Signatures winners. It is also fitting to acknowledge all the emerging artists who have participated in the competition over the past 30 years. The majority of winners and merit award winners have gone on to carve out illustrious careers in the visual arts and have made significant contributions to our country’s artistic heritage. Here’s to the next 30 years of developing our cultural economy,”

At the conclusion of the walkabout by the group of seven prize recipients, 2018 Winner, Jessica Storm Kapp, then walked us through her new solo exhibition entitled Artefacts of Belonging – which was due to run concurrently with the Sasol New Signatures 2019 Exhibition of Winning Works, as well as those of the 80 finalists, all of whom are included in the highly respected competition catalogue.

After all the walkabout through the museum’s nooks and crannies, we were then treated to a welcome breakfast of appetizing edibles complemented by yet more coffee and tea, as individual newshounds got to engage in one-on-one interviews with the winner – of a capital on the cusp of spring and at a public space around which the famous Jacaranda’s were yet to dress up in judge and artist, Mary Sibande’s favourite purple hue!

The final judging panel for the 2019 competition comprised convenor, Professor Pieter Binsbergen (convenor), Cate Terblanche (Sasol Curator), Mary Sibande (artist), Wilhelm van Rensburg (Senior Art Specialist, Strauss & Co), Lebohang Kganye (Sasol New Signatures Winner 2017) and Pfunzo Sidogi (Lecturer, Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Tshwane University of Technology).

The exhibition will run from 22 August until the 29th September 2019.

For more information on the exhibition and works for sale, visit: www.sasolsignatures.co.za   

Or contact: Nandi Hilliard from the Association of Arts Pretoria on 012 346 3100, 083 288 5117 or artspta@mweb.co.za.

Twitter: #SasolNewSignatures

Pretoria Art Museum times:

Tuesday to Sunday:  10:00 to 17:00 (Closed on Mondays and Public Holidays)

Pretoria Art Museum: Corner Francis Baard (previously Schoeman) and Wessels St, Arcadia Park

Image Jacob MAWELA (SASOL New Signatures Art Competition winner for 2019, Patrick Rulore, explained his work, Stage 4 Moments – a 101cm x 122cm Oil on Canvas, at the Pretoria Art Museum).

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