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Absa Gallery hosts first-ever group exhibition of all Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winners

Gerard Sekoto is widely recognised as the pioneer of black South African art. He changed the narrative of how the work and lives of black South African artists would be perceived, valued and documented.

It was for these reasons that the Absa L’Atelier awards honoured the artist’s legacy by introducing the Gerard Sekoto Award in 2004 – an accolade bestowed on the most promising emerging artists to enter the competition every year since. Now, inspired by Sekoto’s contributions to South African art, the Absa Gallery brings together, for the first time, all the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winners in one exhibition. Titled A change in the Narrative, the exhibition explores the winning artists’ narratives, through their work and through the reflective retellings of their thoughts and experiences since winning the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award. Explains Dr Paul Bayliss, Absa Art and Museum Curator: “The exchange of narratives is an innately human activity and a key component in the sharing of meaningful human experiences. Gerard Sekoto’s work drew heavily from the value of the narratives around him. It is this dedication to the value of the narrative, especially the artist’s narrative, that is a key part of the ethos of the Gerard Sekoto Award. As such, A Change in the Narrative is a celebration of Absa L’Atelier and the Gerard Sekoto Award’s value and support of the artist’s narrative.” 

Inspired by Sekoto’s contributions to South African art, the Absa Gallery brings together all the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winners in one exhibition.

Inspired by Sekoto’s contributions to South African art, the Absa Gallery brings together all the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winners in one exhibition.

The artists participating in the exhibition include Belinda Zangewa, Lawrence Lemaoana, Nomusa Makhuba, Nina Barnett, Retha Ferguson, Nyaniso Lindi, Bongumenzi Ngobese, Isabel Mertz, Bambo Sibiya, Mongezi Ncaphayi, Mbavhalelo Nekhavhambe, Natalie Moore, Matete Motubatse and Banele KhozaThe exhibition will be curated by Luyanda Zindela, a young Durban-based artist who won a Merit Award in the 2014 instalment of the Absa L’Atelier competition. As part of his prize, Zindela attended an art residency at, and became a fellow of, of the Ampersand Foundation in New York in 2015. Zindela holds a BTech Degree in Fine Art and is currently studying towards his Master’s Degree in Fine Art at the Durban University of Technology.  Although he has participated in numerous national exhibitions, A change in the Narrative marks his curatorial debut. “Being presented with such a massive curatorial opportunity not only exemplifies Absa’s continued value and support for the unearthing of young, creative, African talent through the Absa L’Atelier art competition but it also exemplifies Absa’s continued dedication to significantly investing in and nurturing the careers and narratives of the artists that emerge as a result of the competition” Luyanda said. 

Isabel Mertz – Water Damage

The Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award was introduced in 2004 with the objective to support the most promising emerging young South African artists with the opportunity to live, work and experience Paris at the Cite Internationale des Arts for three months. This accolade is hosted and awarded in collaboration with the Alliance Française, the French Institute, French Embassy in South Africa and the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA). It is an award that has not only provided the winning artists with a launch pad for their careers, but has also had a hand in nurturing, shaping or altering their personal and artistic narratives. “We strive to share the best of French and francophone culture with South Africa and to promote South African artists on the international scene, and this show is an important milestone in our endeavours to strengthen creative exchanges between South Africa and France. For over a decade we have been supporting these artists by sending them on a 3 months residency in Paris at the Cité des Arts and then organising a touring solo exhibition throughout the country of their work. All these artists are links between our countries and audiences, always strengthening the exchange between artists and audiences” says Marian Claudel of the French Institute. 

A change in the Narrative runs from 20 November 2017 to 26 January 2018 at the Absa Gallery in Johannesburg.

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