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Reimagining the Title: “The Prestigious Absa L’Atelier Art Awards Recognize Exceptional Talent”

The highly anticipated Absa L’Atelier Awards 2023 took place on October 11, 2023, at The Galleria in Sandton, Johannesburg. The event was a successful celebration of African artistic excellence, showcasing the works of talented individuals who have made a lasting impact on the creative landscape.

The Absa L’Atelier Awards demonstrate a commitment to fostering artistic expression and contributing to the cultural richness of the continent. Open to individuals aged 21 to 40, the Absa L’Atelier embodies Absa’s dedication to supporting young artists on their journey of self-discovery and artistic growth. The adjudicators were carefully selected from various countries around the world, including South Africa, Italy, France, USA, Ghana, and Tanzania.

The evening began with the highly anticipated announcement of the Gerard Sekoto Award winner. This art prize is named in honor of the prominent South African artist Gerard Sekoto, who is recognized for his influential contributions to modern art and depictions of urban life and the challenges faced by black South Africans. Administered by the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), in partnership with Absa and the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), the award aims to foster and endorse contemporary South African art and nurture cross-cultural connections through a prestigious residency in Paris. Typically awarded to young artists aged 25 to 35, demonstrating exceptional talent and innovation, it serves as a platform for the promotion and support of artistic endeavors in the country. The proudly South African Bulumko Mbete was announced as the winner, creating a moment of celebration and recognition.

To conclude the evening, Absa L’Atelier made the grand announcement of the main prize, recognizing three winning Ambassadors from distinct groups: Edward Lawerh (Ghana) from Group A, Gayi Eric Joe (Uganda) from Group B, and Idowu Emmanuel (Nigeria) from Group C. The artists’ body of work not only displayed innovative visions but also showcased skillful execution that captured the essence of contemporary African art. This year is historic as a winning artist from Uganda claims the spotlight for the first time, highlighting the diversification of winning artists from various African countries and underscoring the competition’s growing impact and the abundant artistic talent across the continent. The Absa L’Atelier Awards 2023 will mark a pivotal moment in the journey of these artists, signaling not only individual achievement but also the collective progress of the African art scene.

Dr. Paul Bayliss, Senior Specialist: Art and Museum Curator at Absa, offered insights and perspectives on the transformative power of art. He emphasized the importance of nurturing young talents and investing in their growth. Absa L’Atelier is also pleased to announce its partnership with the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria (UP), aiming to advance the creative sector across the continent and explore opportunities for propelling the African artistic narrative forward. The Javett Art Centre recognises Absa’s and SANAVA’s significant investments in supporting Africa’s visual artists and looks forward to collaborating on initiatives that will shape the future of African art.

CEO at the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria, Lekgetho Makola, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, stating that it will contribute to their mission of promoting art and cultural heritage programs for social transformation and innovation. He commended Absa and SANAVA for their commitment to assisting young artists and emphasized the need for a young participatory audience to foster growth within the artistic community.

Mr. David Martinon, Ambassador of France to South Africa, expressed pride in being part of an initiative that celebrates brilliance and diverse perspectives. He sees each winner as a testament to the creativity and enduring spirit of collaboration between South African and French artistic dialogue.

At the heart of the Absa L’Atelier narrative is the mission of empowering Africa one story at a time. Absa and its partners are actively nurturing, guiding, and empowering these young artists as they bring their unique artistic narratives to life, building a vibrant tomorrow for the visionaries of today.


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