The Barclays L’Atelier competition is one of those events which changes lives. For the top 100 semi-finalists their work is displayed at a prominent South African galley (the Absa Gallery) and featured in the accompanying catalogue. For the top ten finalists, their is special mention. For the top five winners there are substantial prizes, all of which are accompanied by residencies for artists.
This is now a competition which spans the whole of Africa and it was reflected in the finals which features six South Africans and four non-South Africans.
The overall winner this year was Egyptian Nourhan Refaat with her July Tale photographs of masked people. I found her work particularly intriguing. Her prize is substantial – a six month residency at the Cite Internatione Des Arts in Paris, return airfare and R225 000 for the residency as well as a solo exhibition at the Absa Galley after the residency.
The exhibition with the top 100 works can be seen at the Absa Gallery in downtown Johannesburg, Absa North Tower, corner Main and Polly Streets, Johannesburg.