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ARTISTS VIE FOR BIG PRIZE (article first published : 2002-03-15)

The L'Atelier season has arrived again - that time of year when young artists around the country vie for the coveted Absa L'Atelier Art Award. The Award comes with a R70,000 cash prize (an increase of R10,000 from previous years) and a six-month sabbatical at the CitÚ Internationale des Arts in France, courtesy of financial services group, Absa.

Regional judging is underway and about 100 works from the pool of entries will be selected as finalists. The overall winner will be announced at a gala exhibition in Johannesburg on July 24. Four runner-ups will each receive R15,000 in cash (an increase of R5,000 per winner from previous years).

Now in its 17th year, the annual competition is the longest running art competition in the country. Endorsed by the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA) but entirely financed by Absa, the L'Atelier has become an essential landmark in the lives of young artists aged 21 to 35.

Says Angela Bruwer, General Manager: Absa Group Corporate & Public Affairs: "The importance of the Absa L'Atelier competition must not be underestimated. For any young artist, recognition is vital - for the inspiration and motivation to carry on and to become winners. It also serves to introduce these new, relatively unknown artists to gallerists, art-buyers and to the general public."

The L'Atelier has provided an important stepping stone to previous winners who have reached local and international fame, such as Karel Nel, Penny Siopis and Dianne Victor and those who are on their way, like Colbert Mashile, Ryan Arenson, Brad Hammond, Lucas Bambo and Stefanus Rademeyer, to name a few.

Exhibition entries can be viewed by the public at the various venues around South Africa. In Durban, this will take place at the Alliance Franšaise from March 19 to 29. Contact 031 312-9582.

* The inclusion of the French prefix L' to the competition name, has been introduced to highlight the opportunity given to the overall winner to stay at the renowned artist colony, the CitÚ des Arts in the heart of Paris, France.




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