Uganda’s Joe Gayi has emerged among the top winners in Absa’s L’Atelier 2023 Awards, which took place last month at The Galleria in Sandton, Johannesburg.
This year’s Awards were historic as Gayi became the first artist from Uganda to claim the spotlight – highlighting the diversification of winning artists from various African countries and underscoring the competition’s growing impact and the abundant artistic talent across the continent. The Absa L’Atelier Awards 2023 will mark a pivotal moment in the journey of these artists, signalling not only individual achievement but also the collective progress of the African art scene.
Gayi will – among other prizes – take up a residency in South Africa from 1st May to 30th June 2024 with airfare and a daily stipend provided; attend 10 masterclasses with leading experts from across the globe from April to June 2024; embark on a four-month mentoring program with a leading authority within the visual arts from Uganda and; host a solo exhibition in Uganda with artwork materials and framing covered by Absa up to US$ 5,300 and all proceeds going to the artist.
The awards – which reflect Absa’s commitment to fostering artistic expression and contributing to the cultural richness of Africa – saw Gayi – a Commercial Industrial Arts and Design graduate from Nkumba University – gain recognition as one of the three winning ambassadors alongside Edward Lawerh (Ghana) and Idowu Emmanuel (Nigeria).
Absa’s L’Atelier is open to individuals aged 21 and 40 and embodies Absa’s dedication to assisting young artists on their journey of self-discovery and artistic growth.
Gayi describes his art as being inspired by hyperrealism and surrealism. He says, “My artworks have elements of juxtaposition and visual puns. My drawings are basically more of telling my personal stories, and emotional insecurities of people around me, and constantly explore and express black identity, affairs, and pride in a surrealistic and hyperrealistic way.”
The Awards ceremony was a successful celebration of African artistic excellence, showcasing the works of talented individuals who have left an indelible mark on the creative landscape.
The winner of the much-anticipated Gerard Sekoto Award was South Africa’s Bulumko Mbete – whose body of work not only displayed innovative visions but also showcased skilful execution that captured the essence of contemporary African art.
The award is named in honour of the prominent South African artist Gerard Sekoto, who is recognised for his influential contributions to modern art and depictions of urban life and the challenges faced by black South Africans.
Dr Paul Bayliss – a Senior Art and Museum Specialist at Absa offered insights and perspectives on the transformative power of art. “Within the vast realm of creativity, a beacon of hope shines a light on the profound importance of not only championing but also wholeheartedly nurturing the budding talents that enrich our artistic landscape. Emerging artists are not merely creators of the present, but architects shaping the destiny of the artistic narrative for generations to come.”
He added that L’Atelier is a true testament that when it comes to investing in and fostering the growth of these talents, Absa not only enriches the present artistic discourse but ensures a legacy of perpetual brilliance that will resonate through the corridors of time.
At the core of the Absa L’Atelier narrative is the powerful mission of Empowering Africa’s tomorrow, together – one story at a time. Absa and its partners are poised to actively nurture, guide and empower these young artists while they give life to their unique artistic narratives and build a vibrant tomorrow for the visionaries of today.