Artistically, Absa L'Atelier Art competition produces the best in SA!

 Last night the latter and other three talented young South African artists were honoured at 2013 Absa L’Atelier Art Competition function held at Absa head offices, downtown Jozi.

Speaking exclusively to SLM ahead of the awards during the media breakfast, Ncaphayi says being selected in the top ten was an honour.

“Look, for me winning is everything and I feel great for being part of this process which had great minds, thinkers and exceptional individuals from various backgrounds,” he says.

“However, should I come second best that for me would be an achievement on its own,” commented the globetrotter, who has exhibited abroad.

Ncaphayi, from Thokoza- East Rand  was awarded the Gerard Sekoto Award, sponsored by Alliance Française, for the most promising artist with an annual income less than R60 000 for his work, ‘Migrant Workers’ Hostels’.

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.

Pauline Gutter, took the overall award and main prize for her piece, ‘Die Huweliksaansoek’. She originates from Bloemfontein.

Merit Award winners went to Jaco van Schalkwyk from Johannesburg, awarded for his mixed media installation Beloofde Land? /Promised Land? and Kathleen Sawyer (Port Elizabeth), for her design Somata.

Gutter won R125 000 from Absa, a return air ticket to Paris and a six months and a six months residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, whereas 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.

Gutter’s winning work, ‘Die Huweliksaansoek’, featured a video, old farm telephone, engraved plaque and wood. A 1.8 metre high association-rich obelisk confronts the observer with the intimate action of a stud-bull’s seminal discharge.

The observer is encouraged to ‘listen in’ voyeuristically to the ‘agri-porno’ on the screen. The listening-in apparatus is a farm-line handset; the soundtrack is the voice of Gerben Kamper, recognisable as that of the heroic musketeer, Brakkenjan.

Even though it is now obsolete, the handset symbolises the first phase of the search for women, which is ‘listened to’ by the entire community. The text is a collage of dialogue from the KykNet reality show ‘Boer Soek ‘n Vrou’, in which the female role is that of a homemaker and progeny-provider.

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.

More than 565 entries were received across the country, and only ten came out tops.

Dr Paul Bayliss, Absa Art and Museum Curator, said entries were received from across the country.

“It was so fascinating to see the depth of creativity exhibited by the entrants. It points to how our emerging artists are growing. Over the years that L’Atelier has been running, we have physically seen this growth among entrants, both personally and professionally as artists.

At Absa, we are delighted to see how these artists’ careers are flourishing through this platform, and we will continue to support and empower young South African artists in this way,” says Dr Bayliss.

“We would also like to thank the partners that have joined us in creating this platform and the exciting journey for these artists; it is a vital partnership that we and no doubt, the local arts community truly value.”

This year, for the first time, two Merit Award winners were named, each also

receiving a prestigious residency prize. Van Schalkwyk won a two months’ stay at the Sylt Foundation in Germany and Sawyer won a one month’s stay at the Ampersand Foundation in New York.

As part of the prize, Sawyer also becomes a Fellow of the Ampersand Foundation.

Aside from mentioned winners, the remaining Top 10 artists recognised for excellence this year included Jan Tshikhuthula for Thiko (Johannesburg); Louis de Villiers for You & Me (Durban); Heidi Fourie for Autasuggest ABC (Pretoria); Vincent Bezuidenhout for Food Court (Cape Town); Franli

Meintjies for Tribute to Martha (Pretoria) and Ruan Huisamen for Reveal (Cape Town).

The competition is open to young artists between the ages of 21 and 35, across SA.

* The Absa Art Gallery (Upper Ground Level, Absa Towers) is open for public viewing from July 18 to 22 August 2013, where all hundred works are in display.

Members of the public are requested to bring their ID books along for parking and entry purposes.


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