Cape Town-based artist, 54-year-old, Zyma Amien, has been announced as the winner of the 2016 Sasol New Signatures Art Competition for the incredible mixed media artwork titled Paying Homage, which addresses labour issues particularly within the garment and textile industry.
She said the work pays homage to her mother and grandmother, who worked in the sector and were exploited under the country’s minimum wage laws.
As the winner of the competition, Amien walks away with a cash prize of R100 000 and the opportunity to have her first solo exhibition in 2017.
Acclaimed artist, judge and National Sasol New Signatures Art Competition Chairman, Pieter Binsbergen, this year’s entrees reflected a good balance between ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’ mediums.
“The artists used many different resources, from a toothpick to plastic and gave them meaning. Whatever the mode used, all of the entrants had something in common: they combined their materials with innovative ideas to transform the ordinary into something extraordinary.”
Amien’s winning artwork consists of three suspended overalls, which are offset by three appropriated sewing machines, which forcefully ‘pin’ the artwork to the floor. She explains that these overalls, worn by female workers and made with gauze, represent wounds and scars and further aim to allude to historical, physical and structural pain suffered by her mother who worked in the trade for over 50 years.
The Sasol New Signatures Art Competition is presented annually in collaboration with the Association of Arts Pretoria. Art plays an important part in the cultural fabric of our nation and competitions serve to encourage greater creativity across age, gender and education, as well as to acknowledge the wealth of talent that we have in our country.
As the longest running art competition in South Africa, the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition – now in its 27th year – has been a platform for promoting emerging artists and their work to the art-loving public at large. Many of the works now have a proud place in the Sasol art collection.
Commenting on the importance of a competition of this nature Binsbergen said Sasol New Signatures has always kept its ear to the ground in terms of what inspires young artists.
“Sasol has laid emphasis on the educational value of the competition as it plays a vital role in the sustainability of young and upcoming artists. To this effect, the competition piloted feedback sessions this year to try and bridge the communication gap between the regional selectors and the participating artists. This is with the hope that these feedback sessions will fuel new interest, offer clear insight and serve to inspire entrants to rise to the challenge and re-enter in 2017.”
Senior Vice President Public Affairs and Real Estate Services at Sasol, Wrenelle Stander, said this year’s Sasol New Signatures finalists and their works live up to the reputation of what the competition has become known for. “A great feature of the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition is the various ways in which emerging artists vent their innermost expressions with art that ranges from experimental to conceptual and cutting-edge,” said Stander.
She said Sasol’s support of the arts, both as a sponsor and collector, stemmed from the company’s understanding and appreciation of the important role that art plays to lift our spirits, to entertain, to stimulate our minds, to excite critical thought and to enrich our lives.
“Through art, we are able to get a glimpse into the values that a society holds dear, as well as the socio-economic and political issues at play,” she said.
Runner-up for 2016, Paul Andries Marais from Stellenbosch scooped second place for his digital video titled Delicates. The video references the contemporary post-apartheid South African landscape, which the artist feels is still rife with discrimination, communication challenges and inequality. In a visual narrative, Marais aims to construct an allegory using a glove, a washing machine, basin and socks as characters to bring attention to the delicate socio-political situation in South Africa.
The other winners are, in the merit category:
Matilda Engelblik (Pretoria) – Mapping Loss – Spaces and Dialogues
Shaun James Francis (Johannesburg) – Two weeks
Mosa Anita Kaiser (Grahamstown) – in living water
Zane Wesley Lange (Port Elizabeth) – Somatacized
Aneesa Loonat (Port Elizabeth) – Trash
Each Merit Award winner received a R10 000 cash prize.
Exhibiting alongside the winning works at the Pretoria Art Museum is 2015 Sasol New Signatures winner Nelmarie Du Preez with her solo exhibition entitled Loops of Relation ….a Continuation.
All 100 shortlisted artworks will be exhibited alongside the winners at the Pretoria Art Museum from 8th September until 9th October 2016.
Image: The Overall Winning Artwork – Zyma Amien (Cape Town), Paying homage, Mixed media, Installation: 250 cm X 250 cm X 40 cm