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ABSA L’ATELIER ART (article first published : 2003-12-10)

The 2004 Absa L’Atelier Art competition is expected to produce the highest quality of entries in its 19-year history, as South Africa’s most promising artists strive to land the sought-after prize of a six-month study period at the prestigious Cité Internationale des Arts in the heart of Paris. The prize includes R100,000 pocket money, a return ticket to France and free access to galleries and museums in the capital.

The much sought-after prize will allow the winner to develop his or her talent among international artists from all corners of the globe.

A welcome addition to the Absa L’Atelier art competition is the Gerard Sekoto award for the most promising disadvantaged artist with an income of less than R60,000 per annum. Absa’s long-standing relationship with the French government and commitment to creating opportunities for young artists to gain exposure to the international art community has resulted in this award being sponsored by the Alliance Française and the French Embassy.

The Gerard Sekoto award comprises a return ticket to Paris, three months accommodation at the Cité, nationwide touring exhibitions and French language classes. The total value of this prize is R80,000. Four merit award winners will each pocket R20,000 and, for the first time, the top ten finalists will receive a R1,000 bonus prize. This brings the total prize value of the Absa L’Atelier art competition to R400,000.

Artists are expected to spend much of the Festive Season break and the start of the New Year working on their entries which will be received at regional venues in Bellville (Western Cape), Bloemfontein, Durban, East London, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria and Umtata during the week of March 1 to 5.

The South African National Association of the Visual Arts (SANAVA) will select the best 100 artworks out of the entries received across the country. These works will then be transported to Johannesburg for a combined exhibition. The overall winners will be announced in July next year.

“Absa is proud to sponsor SA’s longest running art competition which serves to recognise the rich, diverse talents of our country’s young artists. Their works capture the essence of South Africa’s dynamic, throbbing culture and thus provide a valuable record of this era for future generations,“says Laetitia van Dyk, Group Executive Director of Absa.

The Absa L’Atelier competition has been the launch pad for the careers of many South African artists who have become household names on the global stage - artists such as Penny Siopis, William Kentridge, Karel Nel, Dianne Victor and Colbert Mashile.

Each year Absa purchases an artwork from the final exhibition to add to its impressive 20,000 piece corporate art collection, thought to be one of the largest in the world.

Entry forms for the competition are available at Absa bank branches, galleries and museums throughout the country or can be downloaded from the Absa website www.absa.co.za




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