Usha Seejarim, who shows at the Fried Contemporary gallery in Pretoria, won for her work which plays with domestic objects like irons and hangars.
The ceremony was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre yesterday.
“It means so much to me. It shows I’m going down the right path, after years of work.
"My inspiration comes from everyday living. From washing and ironing and chores, but it also comes from thinking beyond what it is that one does every single day."
Seejarim wins R50 000 cash and one of her pieces has been bought by the Fondazione Fiera Milano as part of its collection in Italy.
She was among 10 artists selected to enter the Tomorrows/Today competition, which included participants from Australia, Namibia, Angola and Mozambique.
Unlike the rest of the art fair, where galleries use space to exhibit or sell art, Tomorrows/Today is curated by art fair curator Tumelo Mosaka.
He approaches galleries with an interesting specific - emerging artists.
Mosaka said the competition, which initially focused on African art, now considers artists from further afield.
“We are looking for artists who have something to say. We look for larger resonance. I look at the artist's body of work and the content of the work. The value in winning this is that it will join a larger body of work, giving the artist a bigger platform,” Mosaka said.
Giovanni Gorno Tempini, president of Fondazione Fiera Milano since 2016 and an art collector, presented the prize to Seejarim.
“We had a quite a debate, but there was quality and research behind her work. It was also about the material she used. It will go into our collection.”
The Tomorrows/Today exhibit is near the entrance to the art fair, which ends tomorrow.
There are several other interesting pieces at the exhibit.
Among them is the work of Australian Jacqui Stockdale, with the Melbourne-based gallery This Is Not Fantasy.
Gallerist Nicola Stein said her work explores colonial narratives in Australia and how it shaped their current country.
Stockdale photographs people in colonial clothing, including Aboriginals, and paints in the background.
Io Makandal of Everard Read/CIRCA Gallery created a multi-object installation making use of waste materials and industrial objects like fans.
It provides a jarring experience in the clinical space of an art fair.
Zimbabwean Wycliffe Mundopa, of First Floor Gallery in Harare, depicts life in the neighbourhood of Mbare.
Angolan Januario Jano worked with tapestry and photography to tell the story of mponda, a bag used by a woman to store that which is precious to her.
Tickets for the Investec Cape Town Art Fair are R165. Concessions are available for senior citizens, students and children.