Absa L’Atelier celebrates its 36th edition in 2022. This pan-African competition continues to showcase and invest in the finest young artists. It spans 12 African countries where Absa has a presence, namely, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, the Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
The legacy of Absa L’Atelier is providing upcoming generations of young, uniquely African artists with support, recognition, and exposure enabling them to cement their burgeoning careers.
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,
Dr Paul Bayliss, Senior Specialist Art Curator at Absa Group
The Absa L’Atelier underwent re-envisioning in 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic. Difficulties encountered because of COVID-19 pushed the competition to lead the charge in digital progression in the African arts landscape. 2022 sees organisers continuing to improve the digital system and user experience.
The Webby Awards, heralded as the “Internet’s highest honour” by the New York Times, was established to honour excellence across digital media. Of nearly 14,000 entries, just 12% made it through as nominees. The Absa L’Atelier website and virtual drive was recognised in the Arts and Culture category at the 2022 Webby Awards showing just how influential the competition has been in driving innovation in the digital art environment. The Absa L’Atelier competition is a partnered effort between proudly African bank Absa and the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA). This partnership is commendable as it works towards creating a positive impact in the African visual arts scene that will stand the test of time.
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
Dr Avitha Sooful, SANAVA President
The Structure of 2022 Absa L’Atelier
To enter the competition, artists must be aged 21 to 40 and be citizens or permanent residents of one of the 12 qualifying African countries. They must also currently reside within one of the countries.
There are three groups within the competition, the 12 qualifying countries get randomly split into these groups, and the selection of one Absa L’Atelier Ambassador comes from each. The prestigious Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award goes to an additional ambassador who shows themselves as the most promising South African artist, demonstrating continual growth in their work.
All artists receive equal opportunity within the competition. Whether formally trained or self-taught, the adjudication criteria remain the same. The competition provides its ambassadors with prizes that support artists in growing their brand and teaching them relevant career skills. Absa L’Atelier is focused on creating an environment and opportunities for artists to thrive in a perpetually changing world.
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