COMBED: Barclays L'Atelier winner 2015 Kai Lossgott's Small and Common Matters.

Arts Writer

THE judges of the Barclays L’Atelier art competition are looking for thought-provoking works that push traditional boundaries – art that makes the viewer stop and think.

They’re looking for art that has that exceptional ability – that uniquely disruptive quality that slices through the everyday humdrum to give its viewers pause for thought, and even change their personal perceptions.

According to Lerato Bereng, 2016 Barclays L’Atelier head adjudicator, that’s the kind of standout work that will make the grade in this year’s competition ,where, with 10 African countries now participating, the stakes have never been higher.

“This year we will be looking for thought-provoking and well-executed work that challenges and pushes boundaries. We are not only looking for pieces that demonstrate formal qualities, but rather for artists who really make us think,” Bereng explains.

An associate director at Stevenson Gallery in South Africa and a member of the finalists’ judging panel in two previous L’Atelier competitions, Bereng’s sage advice extends to include the approach artists should adopt in ensuring this distinctive appeal.

“Don’t hold back. That’s my advice; nothing is too much or too subtle. Artists should focus on why they are making that particular work, and the sentiment behind it, and bring that to life,” she adds.

Dr Paul Bayliss, Absa Art and Museum Curator, says it is an exciting time not only in the evolution of the competition, but within contemporary African art as well.

“In addition to South Africa, we’re delighted to welcome artists this year from Botswana, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Mauritius and Seychelles,” says Dr Bayliss.

“It’s fitting that the competition enters this new phase at a time when there is a lot of new energy fueling our young African artists, and I hope this translates into exceptional entries this year,” Dr Bayliss adds.

Both Bereng and Dr Bayliss reiterate that the 2016 prizes present unrivalled opportunities for emerging artists aged 21 to 35.

These include a six-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris (main winner); as well as a three-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris (the Gerard Sekoto Award winner – for South African artists only); and a three-month residency at the Bag Factory Artists’ Studio in Johannesburg (a merit award).

Other prizes are a two-month residency at the Sylt Foundation in Germany (a merit award) and a one-month residency in New York (merit Barclays L’Atelier 2016 is hosted in conjunction with the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (also known as SANAVA).

Kai Lossgott’s Small and Common Matters was the Barclays L'Atelier winner for 2015.

Registration is open until March 4.

All entries must be received at artists’ nominated collection point by 4pm on this date.

Entrants can make their drop offs at their nearest collection point from Monday until next Friday, March 4.

See the Barclays L’Atelier website for all competition information, including registration and entry details.

l The registration process this year is being facilitated exclusively online: For all content queries: call 011 350 3003, or call Dr Paul Bayliss, Absa Art and Museum Curator: 082 417 5674, or e-mail on paulbay