The Sasol New Signatures Art Competition is presented annually in collaboration with the Association of Arts Pretoria and is the longest-running art competition in South Africa. Now in its 30th year, this prestigious competition has attracted thousands of entries from across the country and has produced an abundance of finalists, many of whom have gone on to excel on the local and international art stages. On Wednesday, 21 August, the 2019 Sasol New Signatures winner, runner-up and five merit award winners were announced. Read more about the 2019 winners here.
Jessica Kapp, who was placed first overall in 2018, received R100 000 in prize money and the opportunity to hold her first solo exhibition. This exhibition titled Artefacts of Belonging will run in conjunction with the 2019 Sasol New Signatures exhibition until 29 September 2019, at the Pretoria Art Museum.
Kapp recognises that her 2018 overall win together with the R100 000 prize money propelled her towards the works created for Artefacts of Belonging and she acknowledges that Sasol’s recurrent theme, ‘limitless’, underpinned her execution. Kapp’s solo exhibition was more than a year in the making and the works exhibit a wide range of technical skills, including welding, electroforming, and the construction of large-scale sculptural works.
Kapp explained: ‘My material investigation was instigated by the devastation of the Knysna fire, which destroyed large swathes of my hometown in 2017. This show focuses on notions of home, loss, and belonging. In layering processes together, I have sought to create my own visual language and communicate lived experience through the process of artmaking.’
Artefacts of Belonging is contemplative in nature and is designed to be interactive. Kapp’s use of large-scale sculptures creates a sense of physicality and weight; referencing what Rosalind Krauss calls ‘bodiliness’. The audience is prompted to reflect on the way in which they position their own bodies in relation to the work. Kapp’s exhibition thematically demonstrates the ephemeral qualities of nature, specifically the Knysna forest, reflecting and revealing faded memories and forgotten items. Each work is a moment caught in metal, cement, resin, paper, ink, glass or wood.
Artefacts of Belonging is made up of the following pieces:
- Five cement cast pedestals comprised of organic material each showcasing a unique found object that has been plated in pure copper. The objective of this work is to elevate these seeming banal objects and highlight their importance as noteworthy pieces of historical evidence documenting the Knysna fires.
- A triptych of three windows which represents slabs of terrain frozen in time. This central piece is formed from a combination of welded mild steel, sand, cement and clear resin.
- Three screen-printed images on mild steel metal plates that have been corroded to reveal inverted images that Kapp took while doing her physical research.
- Some of Kapp’s older work completed in 2018.
- The exhibition includes a sensory interaction with pine needles from the Knysna forest delivering auditory and olfactory experiences.
The exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum also features the 2019 winner, runner-up and five merit award winners as well as 80 finalists, all of whom are included in the highly regarded competition catalogue and will run until 29 September 2019.
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