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Absa L’Atelier 2023, it’s your time to shine

A Competition to Support Emerging Artists and Foster Growth in the Visual Arts Industry

Absa L’Atelier is a pan-African competition celebrating its 37th edition. It aims to invest in and showcase the finest young artists from 12 African countries where Absa has a presence. These countries are Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The competition provides uniquely African artists with support, recognition, and exposure, enabling them to cement their burgeoning careers.

The competition underwent re-envisioning in 2021 and has since led the charge in digital progression in the African arts landscape. In 2023, Absa L’Atelier continues to improve the digital system and user experience for the artists entering the competition.

To enter, artists must be aged 21 to 40, citizens or permanent residents of one of the 12 qualifying African countries, and currently reside within one of these countries. The competition consists of three groups, with four countries randomly assigned to each group. Artists within each group compete against each other by submitting a portfolio of four to five artworks. Failure to adhere to this submission criterion leads to immediate disqualification.

Each group of four countries will have a different group of adjudicators. A single winner is selected from each group, and they become Absa L’Atelier Ambassadors. There is no competition among the three groups – artists compete within each group only. Absa exhibits artwork from each of the group winners in the Absa Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa, after announcing the winners. The winning artworks will make up the final exhibition, along with the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winner.

The Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award goes to the most promising South African artist, demonstrating continuous growth in their work. All artists receive equal opportunity within the competition, irrespective of whether they are 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 aims to create an environment and opportunities for artists to thrive in a perpetually changing world.

The main prize for each group winner comprises 10 intensive masterclasses, held from February to July 2024, covering topics such as mental wellness, financial wellness, legal wellbeing, developing one’s career as an artist, media training, building and managing an art portfolio, the art of negotiating and conflict resolution, fundraising, proposal writing, art professionalism, and artist residencies. The Ambassadors are also paired with a leading authority from their respective country within the visual arts, who will mentor them over a four-month period (June to September 2024). Participation in the mentoring program is compulsory. During these sessions, the Ambassador will work with their mentor towards a collaborative exhibition with their fellow Ambassadors that will take place in the Absa Gallery in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, at the end of 2024. The Ambassadors receive a new laptop loaded with the latest Windows and MS Office Package, and they must take up their prizes concurrently.


Important info for all entrants

  • There are 12 countries that qualify to take part in the Absa L’Atelier.
  • After receiving the entries, the 12 countries are randomly divided into three groups of four countries each. Artists within each group compete against each other.
  • There is no competition among the three groups – artists compete within each group only.
  • Artists are required to submit one entry that consists of a portfolio of work of a minimum of four and a maximum of five artworks.
  • Submission of less than four and more than five artworks will result in the artist’s immediate disqualification.
  • Each group of four countries will have a different group of adjudicators.
  • A single winner will be selected from each of the three groups of four countries – one winner from Group A, one winner from Group B, and one winner from Group C.
  • Absa will exhibit artwork from each of the group winners in the Absa Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa, after the announcement of the winners.
  • The abovementioned winning artworks will make up the final exhibition, along with the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winner.
  • The winner of each group will be referred to as an Absa L’Atelier Ambassador.
  • Only one entry is allowed.
  • Each entry consists of a body of artwork, with a minimum of four and a maximum of five artworks.
  • All artwork must be uploaded via the Absa L’Atelier online platform.
  • The works of art must have been completed in the 12 months before the closing date of the competition.
  • Only original artworks may be entered.
    Entries in any medium will be accepted, subject to the following requirements:
  • A single artwork that needs to be hung, must not be larger than 2m x 2m and must not weigh more than 30kg, including the frame. It must also pass through a standard-sized single door.
  • Sculptures, including the base, may not exceed a mass of 100kg. The size of the sculpture must not be larger than 2m x 2m and must pass through a standard-sized single door.
  • Works of art that consist of several parts, including the frames, must not be larger than 2m x 2m and must not have a combined hanging weight of more than 50kg. The individual pieces making up the artwork must pass through a standard-sized single door. If a sculpture is included, it may not exceed a mass of 100kg, and must pass through a standard-sized single door.
  • No installation artwork may be entered.
  • Artworks must be of such a nature that they can easily be packed, transported and exhibited. The selection panel and/or organisers have the right to refuse to accept artworks that are difficult to hang, install, transport or handle.
  • The selection panel and/or organisers have the right to refuse to accept or display artworks, which they are of the opinion, are dangerous or potentially dangerous, or of a nature that may cause injury or damage to persons or goods.
  • No artwork will be accepted that incites hate speech and propaganda or violence against race, creed, gender or sexual orientation.
  • No artwork compiled by more than one entrant will be accepted.
  • Video entries must not exceed five minutes in length and must have a definite start and end point. The video should not form a continuous loop. Any digital work longer than five minutes (including the start and finish) will be disqualified.
  • All artwork entered must be for sale. The selling price must remain the same as the selling price reflected on the online registration form.
  • No performance art will be accepted.
  • All artworks must be exhibition-ready. If an entrant’s artworks are selected, they must immediately be ready for transport to the Absa Gallery.

To find out more about Absa L’Atelier 2023, or to submit your entry: