The regional judging phase of the highly anticipated Sasol New Signatures Art Competition 2023 has concluded across South Africa. A total of 765 entries were submitted nationwide. Out of these submissions, 118 exceptional works have been selected to proceed to the final round of judging, which will take place at the Pretoria Art Museum in August. These chosen artworks will be featured in the competition’s catalogue for 2023 and showcased in an exhibition from 7 September to 29 October 2023 at the Pretoria Art Museum.
This year’s judging process saw a change which was aimed at bringing about a greater level of consistency in the artworks chosen across the regions. In previous years, two judges were selected from each region to join the Chairperson in selecting the artworks for the final round. However, in 2023, Cate Terblanche, curator of the Sasol Art Collection, took on the role of a roaming judge, accompanying the Chairperson to all the regions. One member from the visual arts community in each region was invited to provide a contextualised perspective and expertise. This revamped process aims to establish a unified standard of judging across all regions, maintaining consistency and cohesion.
“The regional judges played a crucial role in the success of the competition. Their input was invaluable, and their professionalism and expertise are evident throughout the adjudication process ensuring a fair evaluation of all submissions.”Pfunzo Sidogi, Chairperson, Sasol New Signatures Art Competition
The overall standard of the artworks submitted in 2023 was impressive. While there were entries that did not meet the competition’s basic standards in terms of technical proficiency and conceptual novelty, the majority of the works demonstrated a high level of technical skill. Notably, printmaking showcased exceptional quality across all regions. However, it was the experimentation with alternative media that truly stood out.
“Artists pushed boundaries by creating sculptures from biodegradable materials or using a variety of household supplies for their drawings. Though some of these works still had technical issues and were not fully resolved, they held great potential and should be further explored.”Cate Terblanche, Curator, Sasol Art Collection
To assist the entrants, the competition offered online tutorials, which proved to be beneficial for many participants. Approximately half of the attendees in the feedback sessions indicated that they had engaged with the information sessions. Numerous artists expressed their appreciation for these tutorials, especially those who lacked access to formal educational resources or were self-taught. The overall feedback regarding the online tutorials was positive, indicating a constructive impact on the artists’ skills and general assistance with entering the competition.
Despite the generally high standard of submissions, there were areas of concern where some entrants fell short. In several instances, the requirements regarding size, documentation, and other guidelines were not met. Additionally, writing a relevant artist’s statement continued to present a challenge for many artists.
“It was disheartening for the judges to reject artworks that deserved recognition due to entrants’ failure to adhere to the competition’s rules. Complying with the rules is a crucial part of professionalising one’s artistic practice and should not be overlooked.”Pfunzo Sidogi, Chairperson, Sasol New Signatures Art Competition
As the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition moves forward to its final judging round, the anticipation grows for the announcement of the winners. The competition continues to serve as a platform for emerging artists to showcase their talents, gain exposure, and contribute to the ever-evolving art landscape of South Africa.
The organising team for the 2023 Sasol New Signatures Art Competition would like to thank the following regional judges for their generous contribution of their time, knowledge and expertise:
- Bloemfontein: Isabelle Grobler
- Cape Town: Kiveshan Thumbiran
- Durban: Jessica Draper
- Gqeberha: Rachel Collett
- Johannesburg: Shonisani Netshia
- Polokwane: Malose Pete
- Pretoria: Shenaz Mahomed