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Expressions Unbound | Entries now open for Sasol New Signatures 2023

By Creative Feel

Entries are now officially open for the annual Sasol New Signatures Art Competition 2023. For the past 33 years, the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition, founded by the Association of Arts Pretoria in the 1960s, has been a beacon for unbridled creativity and artistic exploration within the visual arts ecosystem in South Africa. This year’s call for entries slogan is “Expressions Unbound”.

Sasol New Signatures Art Competition 2022 finalists
7 finalists for 2022

Expressions Unbound, the call for entries slogan, not the theme, for the 2023 edition of the competition, is a phrase that embodies the competition’s long-standing commitment to providing a space where emerging artists can display the fullness of their imaginative potential and self-expression. Expressions Unbound champions the unrestricted artistic narration of personal and collective stories that are relevant to our times,” says Sasol New Signatures’ Chairperson, Pfunzo Sidogi.

Sasol New Signatures has become synonymous with supporting and developing South Africa’s contemporary art scene as well as increasing exposure for emerging South African art and artists. This annual competition is open to all South African artists over 18 years who have not yet held a solo exhibition. Artists who have held a solo exhibition for academic purposes (a master’s degree exhibition for example) are allowed to enter. Artists can submit their artworks in all artistic mediums – painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photography, video and installations. 

Jessica Kapp Sasol New Signatures Art Competition 2018 winner
Jessica Kapp, 2018 winner

“With this competition, we want to encourage artists to take risks, try new techniques, and push themselves beyond their comfort zones in pursuit of artistic excellence. We want them to showcase transformative use of materials, using unconventional or non-traditional techniques, materials, and forms to create works of art that challenge traditional boundaries and expectations,” adds Sidogi.

Says Nozipho Mbatha, Senior Manager for Group Brand and Sponsorships at Sasol: “Sasol is proud to be a key sponsor, together with the Association of Arts Pretoria, of this prestigious South African competition. Throughout its long history, the competition has launched the careers of countless artists who have gone on to build highly successful and significant profiles, both locally and internationally. While winning the competition should be the ultimate goal for all entrants, being selected as one of the finalists is a significant milestone and Sasol is delighted to be part of this exciting journey for so many emerging South African artists.”

Lebohang Kganye Sasol New Signatures 2017 winner
Lebohang Kganye, 2017 winner

Putting together a great submission

Over the coming weeks Chairperson Sidogi and Sasol’s Art Curator, Cate Terblanche will be hosting informative online how-to tutorials with accompanying downloadable fact sheets to assist entrants in submitting their artworks. The video tutorials topics will include:   

  • Entry requirements
  • Preparing artwork for the competition (pricing, framing, signatures, weight restrictions, etc)
  • How to write CVs, biographies, and artist statements
  • What makes a winning work
Zyma Amien Sasol New Signatures Art Competition 2016 winner
Zyma Amien, 2016 winner

Entrants are encouraged to view these videos to ensure that their submissions are of the high standard required.

“We hope that these videos will assist entrants in not only submitting superior quality work, but also give them valuable tools that they will continue to use in their artistic careers going forward,” says Terblanche.

Contemporary, innovative and emerging artists are invited to submit their artworks at one of several collection points around the country on Tuesday, 6 June and Wednesday, 7 June from 10:00 to 16:00. A completed entry form and supporting documentation must be submitted along with the artworks.   

The winner of the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition will be announced on Wednesday, 6 September 2023. The winner will receive R100 000 and a solo exhibition at next year’s exhibition. The runner-up will receive R25 000 and the five merit award winners will each walk away with R10 000.

Information Sessions

What does it take to create a winning artwork for a national art competition?

The Information Session video tutorials are aimed at prospective entrants to ensure that their work is competition-ready and of the high standard required to stand a chance to be selected for the final exhibition and catalogue. Among other topics, the videos will demystify the entry form and its requirements, outline the importance of submitting a clearly worded biography and artist’s statement, and will provide tips on how to best present your artwork. The Information Session videos will be aired twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays commencing on Monday 8 May 2023 on Sasol’s Facebook page and the Association of Arts Pretoria’s Facebook page. The videos are also available on the Sasol New Signatures YouTube channel.

Sasol New Signatures Information Session 1

The following topics will be covered:

  • General conditions: Why enter? Who can enter? Types of works (including visual art and performance art). Dates and selection points.
  • Understanding the entry form
  • Preparing your art: Delivery of art, framing, displaying art, signing work and the Pretoria Art Museum’s hanging system.
  • Supporting documentation: CV’s, biographies, synopsis, etc.
  • What makes a winning work: Judging process and what the judges look for, previous winners and their works.

Mondli Mbhele’s Ingoma Yothando (Song of Love)

The 2022 Sasol New Signatures winner Mondli Mbhele will will hold his first solo exhibition alongside the official Sasol New Signatures 2023 exhibition. Titled, Ingoma Yothando (Song of Love), Mbhele will explore the idea of rituals which accompany important events in life such birth, puberty, marriage, death, and the songs that accompany these occasions.

The Sasol New Signatures exhibition will take place at the Pretoria Art Museum from 7 September to 31 October 2023. 

For more information on competition, information session and drop off points: www.sasolsignatures.co.za 

Mondli Mbhele Sasol New Signatures Art Competition winner 2022
Mondli Mbhele, 2022 winner

Drop off points for artists’ work: 

  • Bloemfontein
    • Oliewenhuis Art Museum, 16 Harry Smith Street, Bloemfontein
    • Tel: 051 447 9609
  • Cape Town
    • Art B Gallery, Library Centre, Carl van Aswegen Street, Bellville, Cape Town
    • Tel: 021 917 1197
  • Durban
    • KZNSA Gallery, 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, Durban
    • Tel: 031 277 1705
  • Johannesburg
    • Sasol Place, 50 Katherine Street, Wierda Valley, Sandton
    • Tel: 010 344 5000 (Sasol Place Main Reception)
  • Polokwane
    • The Polokwane Art Museum, Library Gardens, corner Grobler & Hans van Rensburg Street, Polokwane
    • Tel: 015 290 2579/8
  • Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth):
    • NMU Bird Street Gallery – Nelson Mandela University, Bird Street Campus, 20 Bird Street, Central, Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth)
    • Tel: 041 504 3293
  • Pretoria
    • Pretoria Art Museum, corner Francis Baard and Wessels Streets, Arcadia Park, Pretoria
    • Tel: 012 358 6750

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