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35th Absa L’Atelier challenges African artists to ‘Act on their Art’

Proudly African bank Absa, in partnership with the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), has officially opened applications for the 2021 Absa L’Atelier art competition and invites young artists from across the continent to enter.

  • Absa L'Atelier 2021 Winifrid Luena
  • Absa L'Atelier 2021 Raji Bamidele
  • Nkhensani Rihlampfu Absa L'Atelier 2021

Since its inception 35 years ago, the Absa L’Atelier has showcased and continues to invest in some of the finest young artists from the 12 African countries where Absa has a presence. 
     ‘With this year’s theme “The Act of Art”, we are calling on our continent’s fearless creators to act now and enter. This competition will once again provide an opportunity for visual artists to respond and make their voices heard. We are committed to putting the basic building blocks in place to ensure that young artists from across the African continent can reimagine their futures and bring their possibility to life,’ says Dr Paul Bayliss, Specialist Art Curator at Absa Group.
     Absa L’Atelier has built a lasting legacy, providing the next generation of young African artists with the support, recognition, and exposure they need to cement their burgeoning careers – and this year will be no different, despite the ongoing presence of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Absa L'Atelier 2021 Phoka Nyokong
Phoka Nyokong, 2019 Gerard Sekoto Award winner

     With travel bans and country restrictions still in place, and vaccine programmes still being rolled out globally, the 2021 Absa L’Atelier Awards Programme has been re-envisioned. ‘The pandemic has allowed Absa to advance our digitally led approach, and the entire 2021 Absa L’Atelier will take place virtually, from online submissions to hosting a virtual awards ceremony. The adjudication process will also be live-streamed using an online platform, enabling us to lead the charge in being digitally progressive in the visual arts,’ says Dr Bayliss. 
    The prizes for the 2021 Absa L’Atelier winners have also been re-envisioned. ‘In light of the pandemic, it was agreed with the rightsholders, SANAVA, that winners will receive laptops and data and exposure to intensive virtually-hosted mentorship and masterclasses geared towards facilitating them with skills and opportunities to develop their careers,’ explains Dr Bayliss. ‘This enables the winners to take up their prize irrespective of future uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. We believe it’s no longer about giving artists an amount of money but instead affording them with the skillset to develop and thrive as artists in a forever-changing world.’
     The innovative, digitally led approach will ensure that winning artists still have access to highly skilled mentors to support them in growing their brand, teaching them the relevant skills that would best position them as they establish themselves in the industry.

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