by Rachel Ogbu
The L’Atelier art competition 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 in order to reach more young artists and further the unparalleled opportunities it affords those who participate in the competition. For the first time in its history, this now includes the countries of Nigeria and Namibia.
This brings to 12 the number of African countries participating in the competition, which is jointly sponsored by Barclays Africa and the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA). The other participating countries include South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mauritius, Seychelles and Mozambique.
L’Atelier rewards young visual artists with unparalleled industry opportunities to develop their talents abroad. As such, the competition is open to all professional and self-taught emerging artists aged 21 to 35 who are permanent residents of, and reside in, these qualifying countries.
For thousands of artists across Africa whose creativity is their livelihood, art gives life. Now, L’Atelier is asking these artists to ‘Give art life’ as it calls for entries into this year’s competition.
This inspiring theme of the 2018 competition reflects the idea that the highly acclaimed L’Atelier gives African contemporary art, and the fresh young talent behind it, a platform to thrive. This is evident in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities presented through the competition.
For the main winners, this includes a six-month art residency at the Cité internationale des arts in Paris, and a cash prize of R330 000.
Similarly, the first Merit Award prize comprises a three-month art residency at the Bag Factory in South Africa; the second Merit Award, a two-month art residency at the Sylt Foundation, on the island of Sylt in Germany, and the third Merit Award, a one-month art residency with the Ampersand Foundation in New York, USA.
All Top 10 finalists in the competition are also placed on a two-day art professionalism course to assist them in managing their careers – a vital aspect in helping young artists turn their talent into profitable businesses.
Dr. Paul Bayliss, Absa Art and Museum Curator, says L’Atelier organisers and the entire adjudication panel are looking forward to seeing the works of artists from Namibia and Nigeria among this year’s entries.
“We are very excited to welcome Namibian and Nigerian artists on board, and to see them join so many other artists from across the African continent in taking up the opportunities presented to them through this competition. L’Atelier has played a significant role in the careers of many influential visual artists from Africa, particularly the winners, who have benefited from the exposure afforded to them through the residencies.”
“Since extending the competition to across the African continent, the response from young, up-and-coming artists has been incredible. This bears testament to the fact that emerging artists realise the immense value L’Atelier adds to their careers. It has been very encouraging to see Africa’s young artists making the most of the opportunities that are being created to support and help grow their careers. It’s important not only that artists take advantage of these opportunities, but that they put their best works forward when doing it,” says Bayliss.
To enter the 2018 competition, artists simply need to visit the L’Atelier website at www.LAtelierCompetition.com, click on the “enter L’Atelier 2018” button, and complete the required information. Registration opens on 1 February 2018, entries can be uploaded from 1 March 2018, and entries close on 27 April 2018.