Now in its 33rd year, the Absa L’ Atelier art awards have been a platform that celebrates and grows young African artists. Not only do the awards identify bright young talent but they provide a solid foundation for the further growth of these artist’s potential, giving them the opportunity to step into the spotlight and onto the world stage.
This year, artists from Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Botswana, Mozambique, Seychelles, Tanzania, Mauritius, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria, and South Africa, were invited to participate and 11 have been selected as the finalist from hundreds of hopefuls.
Prior to the big night scheduled to be hosted at the Absa Gallery, City Buzz had the opportunity to meet the finalists to talk about their artworks and tenure as finalists in the prestigious competition which has five prizes; the first prize, three merit award prizes and the Gerard Sekoto Award for the most promising artist.
Check out the Absa L’ Atelier finalists below:
Gillian Abe (Uganda)
Abe’s concepts highlight the mind’s suppleness as seen as autobiographical and drawn from past experiences; they attempt to critique stereotypical depictions of her as a black woman. These materialise into created imagined spaces that instigate a surreal mystical feel to the work at their best born of two realms contrasting and complementing each other. The work probes unsettling narratives on the subject of identity, and gender.
Ayo Akinwande (Nigeria)
Akinwande is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited in Africa and overseas, including an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Leipzig. Shrine is an installation piece that evokes the way that power outages have become so entrenched in life in the city of Lagos and Nigeria at large.
Carli Bassin (South Africa)
Bassin graduated from Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2016 and completed an honour’s degree in creative brand communication at Vega in 2017. Her practice revolves around reconstructing discarded objects to give them new meaning. The three pieces within her artwork represent different facets of a journey, from the outset to a destination.
Christiaan Kritzinger (South Africa)
Kritzinger is a director, camera operator and editor working in the film and television industry. His work has been nominated for numerous film and television awards, as well as art awards in South Africa and America. His artwork forms part of a long-term project that sets out to document South Africa’s climate changes, in the landscapes and community.
Henry Obeng (Ghana)
Obeng works and lives in Kumasi, Ghana. His work captures a drainage path for a bath that is printed on to a handmade paper with the use of bamboo. The bamboo was selected when capturing the site of the photograph and was reused in a different state as a support for his work.
Kirsten Eksteen (South Africa)
Eksteen’s metal installation consists of five life-size rails with hanging metal patterns. The patterns are cut from sheet metal and hung on clothing hooks. The entire installation captures themes of erosion, erasure, restoration, and preservation.
Marguerite Kirsten (South Africa)
Kirsten grew up with various medical conditions regarding chronic kidney disease. Her work, Embodiment, is investigated by the internal workings of her body and references how the body is rendered abject through the psychological effects of the medical industry. It ultimately attempts to strengthen and dignify diseased bodies.
Lameez Davids (South Africa)
Davids’ Thank You for My Lunch speaks about her family’s culinary history which consists of heavily spiced dishes, curries, and sweetmeats. She has taken raw spices and turned them into a map and installation that the viewer can navigate through.
Lodewyk Barkhuizen (South Africa)
Barkhuizen’s Hat disguised as map (annotated) explores the mark-making process as both ritual practice and measuring instrument. The repetition of a tiny ellipse induces a trance-like state and a new process of exploration.
Philiswa Lila (South Africa)
Lila’s Self-Titled is based on the concept of self as the working relationship that touches on a number of concerns that pertain to visibility, belonging, location, knowledge and understanding. It is a project about individual experiences as recognisable or familiar to collective frameworks of culture – mainly in isiXhosa.
Sikelela Damane (South Africa)
Damane’s Toyi-Toyi Act 1 artwork looks at toyi-toyi, a dance performance in South Africa’s protest culture. The work uses the body (self) to emulate the aesthetic movement of the demonstration and looks to suggest how it is an art form independently.