The Absa L’Atelier is one of the most prestigious art competitions in Africa, which aims to recognise and nurture young artistic talent across the continent. Since its inception in 1986, the competition has been a platform for emerging artists to showcase their creativity and gain exposure to the international art world. The competition plays a pivotal role in promoting art as a viable career path for young people in Africa.
The Absa L’Atelier is open to all young artists (21-40 years) who are legal residents of South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The entry requirements for the competition are available on the competition’s website, which outlines the categories of art accepted and the submission process. The categories include painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, and video art. The entries are judged based on their originality, technical proficiency, and relevance to contemporary African art.
One of the unique aspects of the competition is that it offers long-term development opportunities to the winners. The competition recognises that launching and managing a successful art career requires more than just a monetary prize. As such, the winners are offered a wide range of opportunities to help them build their network and collaborate in their art practice, while providing them with a unique platform that would best position them within the visual arts industry.
Given the Absa L’Atelier is open to artists from 12 countries across the African continent, four main prizes are offered. The main prize is awarded to a winning artist from three groups of four countries each. The prize is structured in a way that supports the artist in growing his/her brand, and in equipping the artist with the relevant skills needed to manage a successful long-term art career. The fourth prize, the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award, is given to a South African entrant that continues to demonstrate growth in their art production.
The Gerard Sekoto Award is a notable aspect of the competition. The award is named after Gerard Sekoto, one of the pioneers of modern South African art and the award is given to the most promising artist between the age of 25 to 35 years.
The Absa L’Atelier competition has been a launching pad for many successful artists in Africa. For instance, the 2020 winner of the competition, Boitumelo Diseko, has since gone on to exhibit her work in numerous galleries and has been featured in various art publications. The competition provides young artists with a platform to showcase their work and gain recognition in the art world. This recognition can open up opportunities for them to exhibit their work, collaborate with other artists, and attract new clients.
Entries close at 16:00 on 31 May 2023. For more information, please visit the Absa L’Atelier.