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Lossgott wins the 2015 Barclay's L'Atelier Award

by Deneesher Pather posted on July 17, 2015 in News.

Kai Lossgott, Small and Common Matters

The Barclay's L'Atelier, Africa's longest running art competition, saw its 30th annual ceremony on 15 July 2015 at the Absa Art Gallery in Johannesburg. The competition is hosted in partnership with the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA). The art awards, open to young artists from the ages of 21 to 35, acts as a platform to anchor the careers of the participants through international and local residencies.

Peculiar to this year's event is the inclusion of artists from Botswana, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. According to Dr Paul Bayliss, art and museum curator of Absa, the broadening of the competition to other African countries "raises the bar significantly". Contenders for the top ten art pieces were chosen from 98 artworks and anonymously adjudicated for their themes, technicality, aesthetic and vision. The top ten finalists of this year's competition were:

Gideon Appah, Worn Out Family

Nelmarie du Preez, To Stab

Jonette Erwee, Coin

Kai Lossgott, Small and Common Matters

Nina Kruger, Those Forgotten

Simphiwe Ndzube, Untitled (Figure with Nails)

Benjamin Skinner, Happy Brain Surgeon

Natalie Moore, Once Upon a Time Jozi

Paul Senyol, Simple Sentences

Daandrey Steyn, Holofernus Contemplating Suicide

Winner of this year's event is 35-year-old Kai Lossgott. Lossgott holds cum laude qualifications in dance theatre, documentary, film, creative writing and fine art. He possesses a MA from the University of Cape Town. He has previously participated in the Barclay’s L’Atelier Competition in 2013. His winning work, Small and common matters, centres on spaces beyond what the naked eye can see and the existential significance of positions of self. The work, a three minute video, shows close-up, passing imagery of objects and moments often missed. When asked about the inspiration behind his artwork, Lossgott stated: "It's about scales and our inability to make sense of the magnitude or even the infinitely small nature of the things which surround us".

Lossgott will take part in a six month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris with return airfare. He will receive R150 000 cash for the residency and a solo exhibition at the Absa Gallery. On his win, Lossgott had the following sentiment: "I am flabbergasted and ecstatic."

Natalie Moore, Once Upon a Time Jozi

Receptor of the Gerard Sekoto Award which includes a three-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, return airfare, stipend and travelling exhibition in South Africa upon return, is Natalie Moore. Moore, born in 1990, is currently a BA Architecture student at the University of Witswatersrand. Her artwork, entitled Once Upon a Time Jozi, plays with the idea of classic fairytale themes in African settings. The work is a series of photographs which juxtaposes reality and fantasy, as well as western and African folklore.

The first Merit Award, which includes a three-month residency with Bag Factory, Johannesburg, went to Gideon Appah from Accra, Ghana. Appah was born in 1987 and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in 2012. His artwork entitled Worn Out Family, completed in mixed media, focuses on urban life and popular culture in Ghana. According to Appah, his work acts as a stage, revealing the presence of the artist and attempting to delve into the childlike process of creating playful form.

Gideon Appah, Worn Out Family

The second Merit Award went to Nina Kruger, a final year BA Fine Arts student from the University of Pretoria. The award comprises of a two-month residency at the Kuns-Raum Foundation, Sylt Quelle, Germany. Kruger’s work, Those Forgotten, depicts wooden log statutes with individual heads carved onto the tops. According to the artist, her work was inspired by “attitude of human beings toward nature”. Kruger’s neighbour wanted to cut down a tree hinging on their driveway because it was making a mess, showcasing humankind’s disregard for the natural. Kruger describes herself as a “process based artist influenced by materiality”.

Nelmarie du Preez was the winner of the third Merit Award, which consists of a one-month residency with Ampersand Foundation, New York. Du Preez was born in 1985, and received an Advanced Diploma in Visual Arts from UNISA. Her video, To Stab, was completed in collaboration with Gui, born in 1984 in the United States. A robotic arm stabs precariously close to the artist's outstretched fingers in the video, highlighting the relation between performance and the artist's living body.

The ceremony ended with a lively performance from PJ Powers and the promise of further showcasing of young artists' talents in future L'Atelier competitions. The inclusion of additional African countries made this year’s competition diverse, multicultural and profoundly more prestigious. Barclay's L'Atelier art competition will continue to act as a platform for young artists to expand their careers and further cement themselves as prominent figures in the art world on a local and international scale.

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