Last night Mandi-Anne Bezuidenhout was announced as the overall winner of the 2017 Phatshoane Henney New Breed Art Competition at a prestigious awards ceremony held at Oliewenhuis Art Museum.
Bezuidenhout was honoured for her thought provoking and brave work ‘First Stone, John 8:7’ made from concrete, wood and stone, and that reflects on contemporary issues of abuse, crimes against and judgement of homosexuality, highlighting the complexity that exists in reconciling religion and homosexuality. The judges found her very interactive work to be moving, conceptually complete and well executed, making her the clear winner of this, the second year of the competition.
She was awarded R50,000 in prize money as well as the exciting prospect of forming part of the exciting Winners Exhibition that’s to be held at Gallery on Leviseur during the Vryfees mid-2018.
The Runner-Up Award and R20,000 in prize money went to André Rose for his tremendously atmospheric digital prints, entitled ‘Tjailatyd: At the end of a (dis)honest day’s work’ and ‘Zama Zama’ respectively. These photographs talk to important societal issues in our country relating to unemployment, marginalized communities, and the fight for survival and harsh realities of the Zama Zamas
The two R10,000 Merit Awards, with which the judges had a bit more leeway to identify, support and incentivise artists that they felt showed promise, talent and the ability to take their art to the next level, went to Tumelo David Molapisi and Louis Krüger respectively. Recognising the artist’s potential and skill in doing so the judges unanimously selected Molapisi for his wooden sculpture ‘Lesilo’. In turn Krüger was awarded the other Merit Award for his works ‘Wordingsfeer’ and ‘Op soek na visioenêre reste’ which innovatively uses modern digital montage on paper.
Above outlined five winners were chosen by die official competition judges out of a total of 29 top Free State artists whose 40 works formed part of the Phatshoane Henney New Breed Art Competition exhibition. The judging panel consisted of Dr Ricardo Peach, Director of the Vryfees, Willie Bester, acclaimed resistance artist from Cape Town, Elrie Joubert, visual artist from Bloemfontein and 2012 winner of the Absa l’Atelier Art Competition, MC Roodt, Free State artist and arts practitioner as well as Palesa Motsumi, art consultant and founder of the Sematsatsa Library.
Last but not the least the Public Choice Award attracted great attention with nearly 1400 votes being cast to determine the winner. It was a tight race to the end with Jessica Hansen winning this year’s Public Choice Award title by only one single vote at the close, claiming R10,000 in prize money. She had two beautiful ceramic works in this year’s competition exhibition, namely ‘Ek het van die trappe afgeval’ and ‘Post-colonial Stress.’
At the awards function Sam Moleko, director at Phatshoane Henney Attorneys and competition spokesperson, remarked on the clear golden thread of strong social and/or political commentary running through many of the works. “Also apparent, was the interesting and provocative choices of mediums used by the winning artists and through which they have expressed themselves artistically and linked their medium to strong and contemporary messages about land, sacred spaces, gender rights, unemployment, spirituality and culture. I believe our judges have in their choices shown that art in any form or medium can be relevant, important and capable of being recognised as new breed art.”