13 April 2022

Johannesburg, 13 April 2022: Proudly African bank Absa, in partnership with the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), officially opened applications for the 2022 Absa L’Atelier, inviting artists from across the African continent to enter.

Since its inception 36 years ago, the Absa L’Atelier has showcased and continues to invest in some of the finest young artists from the 12 African countries where Absa has a presence.

“With this year’s theme ‘From start to L’Atelier’, we are calling on our continent’s fearless creators to take a step towards taking their finished artworks to the world by entering the Absa L’Atelier. This competition will once again provide an opportunity for visual artists to respond and make their voices heard. We are committed to putting the basic building blocks in place to ensure that young artists from across the African continent can reimagine their futures and bring their possibilities to life,” says Dr Paul Bayliss, Senior Specialist Art Curator at Absa Group.

The Absa L’Atelier has built a legacy, providing the next generation of young African artists with the support, recognition, and exposure they need to cement their burgeoning careers.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Absa L’Atelier was re-envisioned in 2021. “The pandemic forced and challenged us to do things differently. In our efforts to lead the charge in being digitally progressive and making sure that artists still get the opportunity to showcase their work, we went entirely digital. For 2022, we have continued to work on improving our digital system and user-experience” says Dr Bayliss.

The adjudicators of the competition select 3 artists as ambassadors of the competition who will each receive a laptop, data and exposure to intensive virtually hosted mentorship and masterclasses geared towards upskilling and enabling them to take their careers to the next level.

"In addition to the masterclasses and mentoring, the artists will have a collaborative exhibition in the Absa Gallery which will open in November 2023. This will then travel to their respective countries in 2024. They will also have an option to take up a solo exhibition within a five-year period within the Absa Gallery. To us and our partners, the Absa L’Atelier is no longer just about giving artists an amount of money but affording them with the skillset to develop and thrive as artists in a forever changing world,” explains Dr Bayliss.

The most deserving South African artist aged 25 to 35 will be eligible for the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award, made possible through the Absa and SANAVA’s partnership, with the Embassy of France in South Africa, the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), and the Alliance Françoise network in South Africa.

"These artists are the future of African contemporary art, and we are very proud to be part of this project. For over a decade, we have been supporting this award which grants a talented young South African artist an amazing opportunity; to expand their horizons with a 3-month artistic residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris and gain greater international exposure as a result. The artists are inspired and inspire. They learn, and they teach. They explore, and exhibit, allowing people in France and elsewhere in Europe to learn more about their individual style and vision.  In doing so, we hope to create a true dialogue between our two countries,” says Aurélien Lechevallier, Ambassador of France to South Africa.

SANAVA President, Dr Avitha Sooful, commends the enduring partnership between Absa and SANAVA, aimed at creating a positive impact in the African visual arts scene for years to come. "Our partnership with Absa has grown from strength to strength and it bodes well for the development of African artists whose work will influence the continent’s creative economy, now and in the future. With this year being our 36th year of existence, we hope to double the number of entries from our continent’s young and fearless creators, and we call on all artists to act on their art and become part of the Absa L’Atelier legacy,” concludes Sooful.

Absa Group has also been recognised at the 2022 Webby Awards in the Arts and Culture category for the Absa L'Atelier. The Webby Awards, hailed by The New York Times as the “Internet’s highest honour,” was established in 1996 and presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS) to honour excellence across digital media. This year, there were nearly 14,000 entries from 70 countries worldwide. From tens of thousands of global entries submitted, fewer than 12% were selected as nominees.

“Nominees like the Absa L'Atelier are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet,” said Claire Graves, President of The Webby Awards. “It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 13,500 entries we received this year.”

To vote for Absa L'Atelier, please visit vote.webbyawards.com. Voting will remain open until Thursday, 21 April 2022.

For further information about the Absa L’Atelier, please visit https://latelier.absa.africa