Absa 2022 L’Atelier art competition for young visual artists across Africa (R330 000 and a return ticket to Paris)

Application Deadline: May 31st, 2022

The Absa L’Atelier art competition is one of Africa’s most prestigious art competitions. The competition, which has been running for 36 years this year, is hosted annually by Absa in partnership with the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA).


  • There are 12 countries that qualify to take part in the Absa L’Atelier art competition.
  • 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 which consists of a portfolio 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 then bring the entered artwork from each of the group winners to the Absa Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • The abovementioned winning artworks will make up the final exhibition, along with the Gerard Sekoto Award winner.
  • The winner of each group will be referred to as an Absa L’Atelier Ambassador.


The winner from each of the three groups will receive the following:

  • The ambassadors to take up their prize concurrently.
  • Each ambassador to be provided with a new laptop which would be loaded with the latest Windows and MS Office Package.
  • Each ambassador will be provided with sufficient data to connect to the internet enabling them to attend all online sessions.
  • The first part of the prize would be divided into two parts.
  • For the first part of their prize, the ambassadors will enjoy ten intensive masterclasses, with each masterclass allocated 90 minutes in duration. Virtual platforms allow for the masterclasses to be held with leading experts from across the globe. The participation by the ambassadors in the masterclasses is compulsory. The masterclasses will cover the following topics:
    • MC1: Building up an art portfolio
    • MC2: Media training
    • MC3: Audience development and public relations
    • MC4: Fundraising and proposal writing
    • MC5: Dealing with Galleries, which would include how to engage with galleries, pricing of artwork, contracts, issues around consignments and developing sale agreements
    • MC6: Budgeting and managing your finances
    • MC7: Importance of contracts, wills and trusts (including intellectual property)
    • MC8: Developing exhibitions within the virtual space
    • MC9: Developing, identifying, maintaining and making the most of opportunities in developing your career as an artist.
    • MC10: How to maintain and grow relationships with peers, gallerists, curators, donors, buyers and industry leaders.
  • For the second part of the prize, the ambassadors are paired with a local leading authority from their respective country within the visual arts who will mentor them over a three-month period. Participation by the ambassadors in the mentoring programme is compulsory. During these sessions the ambassador will work with their mentor towards their group exhibition that will take place in the Absa Gallery at the end of the year and, thereafter, travel to each of the ambassador’s respective countries the following year. All materials required for the putting together of this exhibition will be covered, within reason, by Absa.
  • Each ambassador will have an option of taking up a solo exhibition in the Absa Gallery within a five- year period of winning the prize.
  • The masterclass, mentoring and collaborative exhibition to take place in 2023.

The Gerard Sekoto Award

The Alliance Française, the Institut Français d’Afrique du Sud and the French Embassy in South Africa are sponsoring the Gerard Sekoto Award for the most promising South African artist who demonstrates continual growth in their work.

This prize consists of a return flight ticket to Paris, three months’ residence in the Cité Internationale des Arts, nationwide touring of exhibitions in France and French language tutoring. The Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris residencies are made available by SANAVA.

Application Procedure:

  • Artists are permitted one single entry.
  • The entry submission needs to be a portfolio of artworks that comprises a minimum of four, and a maximum of five different artworks to make up the portfolio entry.
  • Adjudication is done on the entry, which consists of the portfolio of artworks.
  • All entries must be submitted via the online portal.
  • The Absa L’Atelier competition portal will open for uploading entries on 1 April 2022.
  • Entries close on 31 May 2022 at 16:00 (CAT).No late submissions will be accepted.
  • Adjudication is done via the online portal.
  • A total of 10 (ten) images, showcasing the artist’s entry, may be uploaded.
  • When registering online and uploading artwork, it is essential that all fields are completed.
  • Failure to complete all fields will result in an entry being disqualified.
  • Any artist aged 21 to 40 years may enter the competition.
  • All previous entrants will be required to re-register on the portal.

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the Absa 2022 L’Atelier art competition


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