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Absa Gallery in partnership with the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) opened its doors on 9 February 2023 for the solo exhibition by Abongile Sidzumo, the 2021 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto award winner. Sidzumo is showcasing his recently produced artworks themed “Amagoduka”, a concept of belonging and what he considers home. “Amagoduka’ is a term used for people who live in urban areas but are originally from rural locations.

Abongile Sidzumo, 2021 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winner, shows one of his artworks, Indlovu ayisindwa ngumboko wayo, in his solo exhibition in the Absa Gallery. Artwork details: Abongile Sidzumo, Indlovu ayisindwa ngumboko wayo, 2023. Leather, waxed braided thread, leather dye and canvas, 1676 x 1201 x 49mm. Courtesy of Absa Gallery.

The exhibition opened via a livestream on the Absa Art Hot Spot, a platform that delivers an engaging art experience, thus giving Abongile an opportunity to interact with his audience in a virtual space for focused dialogue, networking and insights-sharing. This is over and above showcasing his variety of original artwork in the Absa Gallery and highlights of this physical exhibition in the virtual exhibition in the Absa Art Hot Spot.

Abongile’s practice is influenced by his life experience and the performance of everyday life in black communities. He uses discarded leather offcuts in his body of work and assembles them to create imaginary landscapes. The leather offcuts have been stitched together by thread, they explore ideas around migrant labour, land, and class. The act of repurposing leather offcuts draws influence from the livelihoods of the working class.

Cultural attaché and Deputy Director of French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) a lead sponsor of the Gerard Sekoto Award, Sophie Boulé expressed, “This year will be exactly 20 years that we have supported the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award for the most promising South African artists. We believe in the power of this Award which grants a talented young South African creative the exciting opportunity to expand their horizons with a 3-month artistic residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, gaining greater exposure as a result thereof.

Abongile brought his South African roots to a new city, one known for its culture and inspiration. As part of the Award, Abongile will embark on a touring exhibition across South Africa providing an opportunity for exposure amongst art afficionados. Along with our partners, Absa and South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), we are proud to accompany Abongile and other South African artists in sharing their work both nationally and internationally.”

The work of Abongile deals with often overlooked suffering and violence experienced by black people. His work captures the feeling of being in certain spaces and how those spaces impact the way people navigate through life. The importance of having a place to visit and spending time with family and friends as a form of healing.

The sponsorship and exhibition are in line with Absa’s ethos of making possibilities come to life for visual artists and resonates with being a force for good in everything they do – using this as a launchpad for new works by the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto winner. Abongile’s solo showcase “Amagoduka” forms part of that commitment and is a culmination of both his work and opportunities afforded to him for winning this prestigious award.

“Winning the Gerard Sekoto award has been the biggest highlight of my career.  It has encouraged me to keep going and believe in my art practise.  Umntu Ngumntu Ngabantu, a big thank you to Absa and everyone involved.” Sidzumo articulated with a Xhosa saying which means “A person is a person through other people.”

“The Absa L’Atelier has built a legacy, providing the next generation of young African artists with the support, recognition, and exposure they need to cement their burgeoning careers,” says Dr Paul Bayliss, Senior Specialist Art and Museum Curator at Absa Group. “The Absa L’Atelier has been running for 36 years now and it is truly inspiring to see the talent of these young artists and as Absa, with our partners we are proud to be a part of the journey and will continue to showcase and invest in some of Africa’s finest young artists.”

Post the 3-month Paris residency, the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto recipient is then afforded the opportunity of a travelling solo exhibition which opens in the Absa Gallery. Following its closure in the Absa Gallery on 6 April 2023, ‘Amagoduka will travel to Gqheberha from 2 May – 2 June; Bloemfontein from 28 August-29 September; and Tshwane from 27 October-18 November 2023.

The Award won Sidzumo a three-month residency at Cité International des Arts, in Paris, France.  Sidzumo has participated in numerous group exhibitions: The Oasis at Hallmark House (2021), A Prelude at BKhz Gallery and Slip Stream at Gallery-De-Move-On (2022), to name but a few!

For more information, please visit Absa Art Hot Spot.

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