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New artists from the African continent shine at 2018 Absa L'Atelier Awards
Posted on September 13, 2018.

Embodiment, Copper, urine, laboratory glassware, LED lights and medical interview and sounds, Installation: 200 cm x 160 cm x 200 cm


Marguerite Kirsten, a fine artist from Cape Town, was the winner of the 2018 Absa L'Atelier awards for her installation Embodiment. The work deals with her own personal experience of suffering from various medical conditions stemming from Chronic Kidney Disease. The installation features copper rods, laboratory glass bottles filled with body fluids such as urine and a medical interview.

"My work references how the body is rendered abject through the psychological effects of the medical industry, specifically my own body," states Kirsten. The work aims to remind viewers of the visceral and decaying nature of their own bodies. She wins a six month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts, R330 000 and a return ticket to Paris.

Self-titled, Beads, 7 cm x 166 cm x 38 cm


The Gerard Sekoto Award was won by Philiswa Lila for Self-Titled, a series of self-portraits related to her name, Philiswa, which means 'be healed'. She wins a three month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.

Lila's work explores the collective frameworks of culture within South Africa with specific reference to isiXhosa. Traditionally, in Xhosa culture, social meanings are created through the use of patterns and colour in beadwork and it defines a person's social status and identity. "I use my name to explore the nuances of language, meaning and experiences of individualism," says Lila.

The three merit awards winners were Gillian Abe (Uganda) for Seat of Honour who wins a three month residency at The Bag Factory Artists Studios in Johannesburg, Henry Obeng (Ghana) for Recycle Frame 2 who wins a two month residency at Sylt Foundation in Germany and Kirsten Eksteen (South Africa) for Patterns and Pattern Body winning a one month stay at the Ampersand Foundation Residency in New York.

View all the winners works here.

The Top 10 included Carli Bassin (South Africa), Lemmeze Davids (South Africa), Christiaan Kritzinger (South Africa), Ayo Akinwande (Nigeria), Lodewyk Barkhuizen (South Africa), and Sikelele Damane (South Africa).

The Absa L'Atelier art competition is jointly sponsored by Absa and the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), and is one of the longest-running and most prestigious visual arts competitions on the African continent.

It was established in South Africa 33 years ago, but in recent years has been expanded to include a number of other African countries including Botswana, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mauritius, Seychelles and Mozambique in order to reach more young artists and further the unparalleled opportunities it affords those who participate in the competition.

The Absa L'Atelier Finalists exhibition runs from 13 September - 26 October 2018 at the Absa Gallery in Johannesburg.


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