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Internationally renowned artist Kagiso Patrick Mautloa has been announced as the winner of the 2019 Helgaard Steyn Award for his 2018 work Urban Vibes (City Buzz). The award is made in a quadrennial cycle recognising the most deserving entries in literature, musical composition, painting, and sculptural works respectively

Kagiso Patrick MautloaKagiso Patrick Mautloa, the winner of the 2019 Helgaard Steyn Award. © Thys Dullaart

There are indeed few artists in South Africa with the stature of Pat Mautloa, and a  career that has spanned decades. Pat or “Bra Pat”, as he is lovingly known, was born in Ventersdorp in the North-West Province in 1952. He is a founding member of the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, where he has had a studio space since 1991 and serves on the board of the directors.

During his high school years, Pat studied art at the Jubilee Art Centre and at Mofolo Park Arts Centre. In 1970, he received an OK Bazaars Scholarship, giving him the opportunity to study at the Rorke’s Drift Art Centre in KwaZulu-Natal for two years (1978-1980). Pat has been participating in Thupelo and Triangle Network workshops since 1985, along with his late friends and fellow artists, David Koloane (1938-2019) and Bill Ainslie (1934-1989) – expanding ideas about artist residencies and how organisations can support the visual arts through a network all over the world. Pat has been fundamental in the development and nurturing of young artists and the South African art landscape. He continues to be committed to developing, promoting and supporting young artists and the visual arts in general. “Bra Pat” has inspired countless young artists and has been described by many of his peers as one of the founders of modernist painting in South Africa.

Pat’s work is included in numerous art collections including those of Hollard, Standard Bank, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Iziko South African National Gallery, Yellowwoods, Nando’s, Spier, and Sasol. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, at the Goodman Gallery (Cape Town and Johannesburg), the National School of the Arts (Johannesburg), the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (Oudtshoorn), University of Johannesburg Art Gallery (Johannesburg), Absa Art Gallery (Johannesburg) and 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair (London). Pat has been a finalist in the Sasol Wax Art Awards (2006) and was the festival artist at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (Oudtshoorn) in 2016.

Kagiso Patrick Mautloa, Urban Vibes (City Buzz) (2018), Mixed media on board, 350 x 200 cm, Image courtesy of the Bag FactoryKagiso Patrick Mautloa, Urban Vibes (City Buzz), 2018. Mixed media on board, 350 x 200 cm. Image courtesy of the Bag Factory.

The three adjudicators for the award, Angela de Jesus of the University of the Free State, Moya Goosen from the North-West University and Richardt Strydom, an independent artist and curator, were unanimous in their choice of Mautloa’s Urban Vibes (City Buzz) as the 2019 award recipient for painting. The artwork represents the urban landscape and the manner in which our lives in the city are constantly in motion and transit. There is also a strong interplay between the figurative and the abstract that echoes the detritus that builds up in the Johannesburg city streets. As a mixed media element, the tricolour plastic-weave bags synonymous with immigrants, are interspersed throughout the work to remind us of the city’s migrant history. At the same time this element also poignantly references recent xenophobic attacks that displaced thousands of people in downtown Johannesburg. Urban Vibes (City Buzz) places the artist as a transcultural mediator within the vibrant and shifting cityscape resulting in the embodiment of an urban sublime that is as frightening as it is awe-inspiring.

Past recipients of Helgaard Steyn Awards for painting include Pippa Skotnes (1987), Nel Erasmus (1991), Robert Hodgins (1995), Cyril Coetzee (2003), Bronwen Findlay (2007), Pauline Gutter (2011) and Penny Siopis (2015).

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