Coveted Absa L'atelier prizes handed out

22 July 2014 - 02:00 By Penelope Mashego AND Xanderleigh Dookey
ON MERIT: 'Umkhumbi WakaMedusa' won Luyanda Zindela a trip to New York
ON MERIT: 'Umkhumbi WakaMedusa' won Luyanda Zindela a trip to New York

For almost three decades Absa Bank has been supporting the arts through its prestigious Absa L'atelier art competition. The enviable prizes include residencies in Paris and New York, and a two-month trip to Germany.

The annual competition is for artists between the ages of 21 and 35, and is held in partnership with the South African National Association for Visual Arts. This year's winners were announced last week.

The winning piece, Odds of an Artist Like Me by Liberty Battson, is a diptych created with 2K automotive paint. Battson represents statistics about artists, particularly their odds of success, using lines to present percentages. She received R150000 and a six-month residency at the Cité International Des Arts in Paris and will be granted a solo exhibition in the Absa Gallery.

Merit awards went to Johannesburg-based Bevan de Wet and Luyanda Zindela from Durban. De Wet won for Decorus in Gryphus II, created using etching and relief. His prize includes a two-month stay at interdisciplinary artists' haven The Kunst: Raum Foundation, Sylt Quelle, Germany.

De Wet said: "I'm looking forward to the new experiences and being exposed to other cultures ."

Second merit winner Zindela, 23, said: "I entered the competition with no expectations of getting far because of my age and the calibre of the other contestants. With no expectations you're always pleasantly surprised."

His photographic print, Umkhumbi wakaMedusa, won him a one-month residency with the Ampersand Foundation in New York.

Mbavhalelo Nekhavhambe from Thohoyandou won the Gerard Sekoto award for most promising artist for his video installation Press Accident.

The award is for the most promising artist with an annual income of less than R60 000 and is sponsored by the French Embassy and Alliance Française.

The competition has been running for 29 years. Absa Gallery curator Paul Bayliss said: "In supporting artists we're also helping build their careers."