Get ready for New Breed Art Competition

Kézia Gerber (Audeamus Studios), Yolanda de Kock (Oliewenhuis), Sam Moleko (Phatshoane Henney), Willie Bester (artist) and Ester le Roux (Oliewenhuis) at the launch of the 2017 Phatshoane Henney New Breed Art Competition last week. PHOTO: ELZETTE BOUCHER

Free State artists can start taking up their brushes with the 2017 Phatshoane Henney New Breed Art Competition in association with Oliewenhuis Art Museum and now also new partner, Gallery on Leviseur, having been launched at Oliewenhuis Art Museum last week.
The competition, in its second year, provides a platform for the discovery and advancement of talented emerging artists from the province.
According to Sam Moleko, director: Phatshoane Henney Attorneys, the competition and competition prizes provide an excellent platform for Free State artists to showcase their talent and contemporary Free State art, and to benefit from the exposure the competition provides.
More than 260 works of art were entered in last year’s competition, of which about 60 were chosen for the exhibition. The public will, like last year, have the opportunity to vote for their favourite work online. Carmen van Staden pulled ahead to win the public’s vote as the favourite artist and claimed
R10 000 in prize money with 1 500 votes in last year’s competition.
Toni Pretorius was announced the overall winner of the competition for her work Amassing for our Carrion King. She created an exquisite piece of art from porcelain, wood, glass, vinyl, ink and brass to address contemporary views on mortality, the brevity of life and human behaviour, showing technique and craftsmanship of the highest quality, supported by a sound conceptual foundation.
The first prize of R50 000 is up for grabs to any artist who has been living in the Free State for longer than six months and is older than 18 years. Entrants must be new or emerging artists who have not held a solo exhibition at a commercial gallery involving more than 20 works. This excludes exhibitions held for academic purposes.
An exciting new feature of the competition is the addition of a Winners Group Exhibition to be held mid-2018. All competition winners, including Merit Award winners, will automatically qualify for the Winners Group Exhibition to be held at Gallery on Leviseur and which will allow all competition winners to showcase a broader body of their work.
At the launch, world-renowned resistance artist, Willie Bester from Cape Town, famous for his colourful found object collages and impressive scrap metal sculptures, spoke about his art and experience as an artist.
Ester le Roux, curator of Oliewenhuis Art Museum, explained that Bester was chosen as a guest speaker to inspire aspirant entrants because he had achieved so much in spite of coming from an unprivileged background. Also, his artworks are both two and three dimensional. Bester said he found young artists inspirational because they bring new ideas and ‘new blood’ to the art world.
“Art is a vehicle for change. It keeps society connected. Through art you can express yourself… and you can change society. Art is the heartbeat of life.”
The 62-year-old Bester took up the brush as a child and displayed one of the paintings he completed at the tender age of ten to great amusement of the crowd. Already then, he had profound insight into the injustice he himself experienced as a child of ‘mixed’ parentage and to the injustice around him. “I found that through creating artworks I could restore the human condition. It was part of my healing.”
Bester believes there is still place for resistance art and that the current status quo still requires commentary.
“Under apartheid I had to operate very carefully. I had to be clandestine about the messages I put out there. Now, I can work without fear.”
As a self-taught artist his advice to novices is to learn from each other. “Discuss all aspects of your artwork with each other – the medium, the technique, the message. If you don’t know how to do something, ask someone to help.” – Maricelle Botha &
Elzette Boucher