New Breed Art Competition tackles mental health issues

Bokang Nkejane, Miné Kleynhans, Neo Theku, Bongani Tshabalala en Kay Fourie.

This year the winner of the New Breed Art Competition was, third year student at CUT, Neo Theku’s compelling photographical work, entitled “Suicide mask.”

Phatshoane Henney Attorneys, sponsor of New Breed, says in a statement that because of the growing threat of mental health issues, depression and suicide among the country’s youth, the judges of the competition were in full agreement from the outset about Theku’s work.

The competition spokesperson, Sam Moleko, said that the work asks the viewer to understand the darkness that many of the young people are forced to deal with, often without support or understanding. He echoed the judges’ sentiments by further remarking that through the use of powerful imagery and precise presentation, Theku’s thought-provoking work immediately demands attention, drawing the viewer in to reflect on this highly contemporary issue.

Theku, was awarded R50, 000 in prize money, the Runner-Up Award and R20, 000 in prize money went to Kay Fourie, for her technically and conceptually strong charcoal drawing entitled “Scrapyard”.

The first of two R10,000 Merit Awards, with which the judges had a bit more leeway to identify emerging talent that can be nurtured and mentored to unlock potential and promise, went to Miné Kleynhans, for her award-winning finely assembled wood and glass, visually representing the different pathways in which morality flows around contested issues, and is aptly titled “Moral Compass”. The second R10,000 Merit Award went to Bokang Nkejane, in praise of his intuitive and bold style of working with oil and pastels in his work, “I was in the Jim”.

Finally, with about 10% of the nearly 2 000 votes cast online, the Public Choice Award went to Bongani Tshabalala for his two striking photographic images, entitled “Deeper into the soul” and “Hidden pain”.

For more information, visit