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Multimedia Works Shine at Barclays L’Atelier 2016

This year’s Barclays L’Atelier has proven to be one of the most strongly contested editions of the annual contemporary art competition.

With a fresh pool of young African artists significantly raising previous benchmarks, the 2016 Barclays L’Atelier winners have shown the diverse range of talent present on the continent.

Nourhan Refaat of Egypt has claimed top spot and the main prize of R225 000. She also wins a six-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris (including return airfare) for her photographic work July Tale. Another highlight of the award is a solo exhibition at the Absa Gallery in Johannesburg in 2018.

South African Matete Motubatse has won the Gerard Sekoto Award and a three months’ residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts, including return airfare, stipend and a travelling exhbition in South Africa upon his return, for his video Moya.

The three merit awards go to Onyis Martin of Kenya (a three-month residency with the Bag Factory, Johannesburg; includes return airfare and a monthly stipend) for his mixed media piece Does it matter who is speaking?; Donald Wasswa of Uganda (a two-month residency at the Kunst:Raum Foundation, Sylt Quelle, Germany; includes return airfare and a monthly stipend) for his work Maali Ya Muswangali utilising leather off-cuts in plastic bags and sisal threads; and, South African Lebo Rasenyalo (a one-month residency with Ampersand Foundation, New York, USA; includes return airfare and stipend) for her video O mogeng lebo, Nomo.

Dr Paul Bayliss, Absa Art and Museum Curator, says Barclays L’Atelier is now a truly continental art competition, as reflected in the diversity of entries received from participating African countries.

Barclays L’Atelier is renowned for delivering fresh, compelling insights from South Africa’s hottest young talent. But this year, with the competition being expanded to include ten African countries in addition to South Africa, it effectively extended the continental conversation about art, delivering not only great diversity in aesthetic, but also dominant narratives from particular regions across the continent. The competition this year was extremely robust and our winners are most deserving of their accolades. The winning works reflect the strongest conceptual framework.

The rest of the 2016 Barclays L’Atelier top ten finalists include Jackie Karuti of Kenya for her photographic triptych I can’t wait to see you; South African Thandiwe Msebenzi of Cape Town for her photographic work Kwazi Kubenini; South African Sethembile Msezane of Cape Town for the photographic piece Chapungu – The Day Rhodes Fell; South African Asemahle Ntlonti of Cape Town for the sculpture Living Sacrifice; and South African Muntu Vilakazi of Johannesburg for the photographic work Mass Therapy: 2015.

These winning works, along with the rest of the top 100 works, can be viewed in the competition’s first-ever virtual exhibition hosted on Barclays L’Atelier, held in conjunction with the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), nurtures young talent and serves as a platform for young and emerging artists to make their mark in the African art arena.

Last year, for the first time in the competition’s 30-year history, participation in the event was extended beyond South Africa’s borders to include artists from Botswana, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya. This year’s competition was further extended to Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Mauritius and Seychelles.

Of particular attraction to entrants are the opportunities to attend a two-day art professionalism course in Johannesburg that will assist them in managing their art careers as viable businesses and the Barclays L’Atelier mentorship programme – two sought-after awards presented to the top ten L’Atelier finalists.

The competition also rewards the winning visual artists with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to develop their talents abroad through art residencies among international artists. Barclays L’Atelier is therefore widely celebrated as the African art competition that has a far-reaching and sustainable impact on young artists’ careers.

‘This aligns with Barclays Africa’s focus on Shared Growth which, in essence, reflects our commitment towards making a positive impact on the various communities we serve,’ concludes Bayliss

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