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Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards 2017 Winners

Posted on September 27, 2017.

The 30th annual edition of the Thami Mnyele Fine Art Awards (TMFAA) received a total of 393 entries country wide and 88 artworks were selected through adjudication to be on exhibition. The competition is open to artists of all ages and categories include multimedia and new media, painting, art on paper and sculpture.

Prizes include a R60 000 first prize, a R40 000 Ekurhuleni prize and four R15 000 merit award prizes. Lizamore & Associates also awards a mentorship programme solo exhibition to the most deserving merit award winner.

Muntu Vilakazi - First Prize Winner
R60 000 prize

Muntu Vilakazi
Imvuselelo, Inkonzo, Uhambo (triptych), Photography

Imvuselelo, Inkonzo, Uhambo is a photographic triptych presentation drawn from a broader visual documentation that is continuously developing. My aim is to produce a qualitative, existential record of black life.

My point of departure as a practicing documentary photographer, is informed and grounded on a view that has been widely articulated by many. Most recently by students from academic institutions across the country.

Any actions by those seeking redress of historical injustice can never be late. Neither should they be policed or forced into conforming (during the execution of this mammoth task of new knowledge generation and production) to standards of practice set out by the same institutions that saw no evil in the absence of black bodies over many years.

Lindokuhle Zwane - Ekurhuleni Prize Winner
R40 000 prize

Lindokuhle Zwane
Imithetho kobaba (my fathers and them), Charcoal and acrylic on Fabriano paper

Imithetho kababa derives from Zwane's body of work which focuses on feelings of nostalgia and the process of catharsis. He is interested in how the past weaves itself into the present and how sometimes this creates a psychological barrier.

Imithetho kababa talks about a journey of a young man who has to assume leadership without being strictly groomed for the role. He reflects on what he can remember from his father and older generation in his family but all he can recall is them in their times of contentment/pleasure.

Manyatsa Monyamane - Merit Award: Multi and New Media
R15 000 prize and Lizamore & Associates Mentorship Programme Solo Exhibition

Manyatsa Monyamane
"Bab Sangweni" "Sarah Simelane" "Vusi Mkhube", Archival print on Felix Schoeller

The story of the lion will always be told from the perspective of the hunter until the lion learns how to write. Many parts of Africa have been victim to this syndrome, constantly hearing their stories being told to them by outside influences. It is vital that African artists become aware of their role in transforming the perceptions of their own societies through the kind of work they create. Social perceptions about Africa being a "dark continent" that was completely void of life until the influence of colonial forces can be countered and altered through visual art that captures the essence of what it means to be African.

The selection of participants for this project emphasizes the historical value of the elders who were active participants and fighters against the apartheid regime. These are real people who witnessed and experienced the transition of an entire society towards the birth of a new nation. These are people who have defined what it means to be a South African today and yet their strength has never been celebrated. My aim as a contemporary South African artist is to celebrate the undying spirit of resilience of the truly unsung heroes of our land. These images represent the strength that carried us through the dark days and continue to carry us to this day.

Sarah Hunkin - Merit Award: Art on Paper
R15 000 prize

Sarah Hunkin
Taxi, Linocut on Fabriano Paper

Many people who work or live in the city that don't have their own personal mode of transport often travel by taxi because of the efficiency and availability. The taxi association is somewhat built underneath the city of Johannesburg and starts to act as a form of support structure to the city. This work starts to speak to one of the main types of public transport that is used to its full capacity in Johannesburg as well as its association and can be thought of as a form of infrastructure to our beautiful city.

Haifeng Xuan - Merit Award: Painting
R15 000 prize

Haifeng Xuan
Still life – Johannesburg, Oil on canvas

Through his painting, Still Life - Johannesburg, Haifeng Xuan investigates how an artist can put the society and social issues as primary concerns in a representational still-life painting. A kind of tension between the colorful ordinary objects - flowers, fruits, cloth, plate and the somewhat possibly crime symbol - the hand gun, reveals a conflict between the artist's inner life - as an artist pursuing aesthetic values in art works, and his social life - as a journalist and reservist police officer facing social problems every day. His painting, Still Life - Johannesburg, therefore, also explores the iconic meaning of the ordinary objects and the concept of still-life painting.

Vivien Kohler - Merit Award: Sculpture
R15 000 prize

Vivien Kohler
FRGL, Material 1, pigment, spray paint, oil

My works do not hide the realities of the unfair perception, but symbolically display it in relation to the liberating verdict of the human spirit. Fascinatedby man's ability to transcend 'the conceptual decay', my work seeks to illuminate the duality of lived experiences by depicting, with an air of surreality, meditative moments of the individual, mentally cocooned from, yet physically enveloped by life's detritus.

Appropriating discarded material I paint detailed replications of packaging material (a layered visual metaphor signifying transience, migration, displacement), to articulate challenging social and economic circumstances that affect those on the periphery.

The exhibition runs from 23 September - 15 October 2017 at the Coen Scholtz Recreation Centre in Kempton Park.

Images and text courtesy of Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards and the City of Ekurhuleni.

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