Format of the competition

  • There are 12 countries that qualify to take part in the Absa L’Atelier art competition.
  • The 12 countries are randomly divided into three groups of four countries each.
  • Artists within each group compete against each other.
  • There is no competition among the three groups – artists compete within each group only.
  • Artists are required to submit one entry which consists of a portfolio of a minimum of four and a maximum of five artworks.
  • Submission of less than four and more than five artworks will result in the artist’s immediate disqualification.
  • Each group of four countries will have a different group of adjudicators.
  • A single winner will be selected from each of the three groups of four countries – one winner from Group A, one winner from Group B, and one winner from Group C.
  • Absa will then bring the entered artwork from each of the group winners to the Absa Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • The abovementioned winning artworks will make up the final exhibition, along with the Gerard Sekoto Award winner.
  • The winner of each group will be referred to as an Absa L’Atelier Ambassador.


  • Artists are permitted one single entry.
  • The entry submission needs to be a portfolio of artworks that comprises a minimum of four, and a maximum of five different artworks to make up the portfolio entry.
  • Adjudication is done on the entry, which consists of the portfolio of artworks.
  • All entries must be submitted via the online portal.
  • The Absa L’Atelier competition portal will open for uploading entries on 1 April 2022.
  • Entries close on 31 May 2022 at 16:00 (CAT).
  • No late submissions will be accepted.
  • Adjudication is done via the online portal.
  • A total of 10 (ten) images, showcasing the artist’s entry, may be uploaded.
  • When registering online and uploading artwork, it is essential that all fields are completed. Failure to complete all fields will result in an entry being disqualified.
  • Any artist aged 21 to 40 years may enter the competition.
  • All previous entrants will be required to reregister on the portal.

Insights and FAQs

Dr Paul Bayliss, Absa’s Senior Specialist Art Curator; Dr Avitha Sooful, National President of the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA); and Gordon Froud, National Vice President of SANAVA share their collective knowledge and insights on everything you need to know to enter the Absa L’Atelier including what this year’s adjudicators will be looking for, how to register and enter the the competition on this site and answers to artists’ frequently asked questions.

Acting on your art has never been this easy.

The prizes

There are four prizes for the competition: The main prize for the winner of each group, and the Gerard Sekoto Award for a South African entrant that continues to demonstrate growth in their art production.

Competition terms and conditions

The Absa L’Atelier has through its prizes, and more so recently, focused on how best to support the artist in growing their brand, in teaching these artists the relevant skills that would assist them in building their careers, giving them the opportunities and necessary skills to build their network and collaborate in their art practice, while providing them with a unique platform that would best position them within the visual arts. It is not just about giving the artist’s a large amount of money, but instead, affording them with the relevant skillset to develop and thrive as artists in a forever changing world.

Main prize

The winner from each of the three groups will receive the following:

The Gerard Sekoto Award

The Alliance Française, the Institut Français d’Afrique du Sud and the French Embassy in South Africa are sponsoring

This prize consists of a return flight ticket to Paris, three months’ residence in the Cité Internationale des Arts, This prize consists of a return flight ticket to Paris, three months’ residence in the Cité Internationale des Arts, nationwide touring of exhibitions in South Africa. The Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris residencies are made available by SANAVA.

Winners are obliged to take up the residency during the period it is offered and may not defer such prize to an alternate date.

If a winner elects not to accept the prize and/or any part thereof and/or is unable to accept same for any reason whatsoever, such prize will be offered to one of the other participants at Absa and its partner’s discretion, with the result that the refusing winner will not receive the prize and/or any part thereof.

The prize and/or any part thereof may not be exchanged for cash, kind and/or otherwise and/or in lieu thereof.

Candidates accept all terms and conditions of entry and by entering the artist acknowledges having read, understood and thus accepted such terms and conditions of submission of their entry to the competition.

The date of residency is April to June 2023.

Conditions of entry


Online registration

How the winners are selected

Adjudication process in the Absa L’Atelier art competition

The Absa L’Atelier art competition sets the stage for the four prize winners to promote their work by exhibiting at the Absa Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Absa L’Atelier art competition is open to everyone aged 21 to 40 years old. All artists, those with formal training, as well as self-taught artists, are given an equal opportunity to participate in the competition.

The adjudication and selection of artworks are done from the online entries. Adjudication of all artworks is done by an independent panel of adjudicators appointed by the partners, namely the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA) and Absa.

The adjudicators for the Gerard Sekoto Award are appointed by the Alliance Française, the Institut Français d’Afrique du Sud and the French Embassy in South Africa.

Each adjudicator is chosen for their particular field of expertise within the visual arts, including sculpture, painting, digital, printmaking and so forth, and each contributes to the assessment of what is deemed to be quality.

The criteria for the adjudication revolve around matters of technical execution, conceptual and thematic engagement, freshness of artistic vision within the context of African contemporary art, and finally – and probably the most difficult element – aesthetic appeal.

The adjudication for the Gerard Sekoto Award will be based on the body of artworks and the CV of the artist. Through their CV the artist must have demonstrated a willingness to grow and develop themselves as an artist, using the opportunities provided to them (i.e. participation in group exhibitions, solo exhibitions, previously having entered the Absa L’Atelier and participation on other art platforms).

Who may enter?

The competition is open to all artists who are not younger than 21 and not older than 40 in March 2020. In the case of art students, only students in their final year of study, who meet the age requirements, may participate.

All prize winners will be required to take up the prize (residency) as per the date mentioned in the entry details.

Only artists who are citizens or have been granted permanent residency of South Africa, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Botswana, Uganda, Mozambique, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Tanzania, Nigeria or Namibia and are currently residing in one of these countries, may enter the competition. The airfare to the Absa Gallery and the residency in France or South Africa forms part of the prize, and is only from the participating countries.

If information is not captured accurately on the system and any information is missing from the online registration, the entrant will automatically be disqualified.

Personal information

Absa will only collect, store and use your personal information, such as your name, age, telephone number and email address for the purposes of entering you, as the entrant, into the competition and for the purpose of administering the draw as set out in these rules. This will not affect any existing marketing preferences that you have registered with Absa.

By entering the competition, your personal information may be transferred to our service providers and agents (including their subcontractors) to store and use as necessary to administer the competition. We will never pass your information on to any third party for them to use in their own direct marketing, without your consent.  

Your personal information will be held on record for a short period of time, as necessary to administer the competition, and will then then be securely destroyed. 

Which works may be entered?

Only one entry is allowed.

Each entry consists of a body of artwork, with a minimum of four and a maximum of five artworks.

All artwork must be uploaded via the Absa L’Atelier online platform.

The works of art must have been completed in the 12 months before the closing date of the competition.

Only original artworks may be entered.

Entries in any medium will be accepted, subject to the following requirements:

Preparation of the works of art

Entrants will ensure that the artworks are ready for exhibiting and all artworks to be hanged must be properly framed, with hooks and hanging wire already attached. To avoid damage to the artworks, it is advisable that the entrants use perspex covering instead of glass. The artist is responsible for supplying hanging clips and protective tabs for artworks that are not framed, but needs to be hung. Artworks that are not hang-ready or do not have hanging clips supplied, could result in disqualification of the entry.

Artworks that are selected must be available for nine months from the closing date of entries. The competition organisers will not be under any obligation to return the artwork within this nine-month period. All efforts will be made to have the artworks returned as soon as possible after the final exhibition closes.

Dispatch, copyright and sales

All artworks are to be available for sale. Absa reserves the right to first offer.

Entrants are responsible, both practically and financially, for packaging the artworks that are included in the final exhibition. The organisers undertake to dispatch works of art submitted for final exhibition to and from Johannesburg, provided that, in the event of loss of or damage to any single work of art, the organisers’ liability, if any, will be relative and the replacement cost of the artwork is that indicated by the artist as the selling price, and the liability is limited to R10 000 (ten thousand rand) only.

Absa and its partners reserve the right to reproduce artworks that are entered, without compensation to the entrants, for inclusion in a catalogue or for the advertising of the Absa L’Atelier.

If any artworks are selected for the final exhibition, entrants will not be allowed to withdraw any of the artworks selected for any reason whatsoever. Withdrawal of any artwork will result in automatic disqualification of the entrant.

Damage and/or loss

If any artworks are stolen, disappear or are damaged, the entrant will be entitled to compensation up to the insured amount only, provided that the amount of compensation is limited to a maximum of R10 000 (ten thousand rand) only.

A claim must be made by the entrant concerned within a month of the artworks being returned/lost, failing which, such claim will be forfeited by the entrant involved. If an entrant is compensated for damaged artworks as set out above, the entrant’s damaged artworks will not be exhibited or continue to be exhibited and the damaged artworks will not be included in any catalogue.

If an artwork is damaged due to a faulty hanging system, it will not be covered by insurance.


If any artworks are stolen, disappear or are damaged, the entrant will be entitled to compensation. The risk in respect of damage to and/or loss of the entrant’s artworks will pass to the organisers once the work is collected. The compensation should be limited to a maximum amount of R10 000 (ten thousand rand) as mentioned above.


Adjudication will be based on the online entry. The independent panel of adjudicators will be constituted under the partners, SANAVA and Absa.

Works of art returned to a regional location after the final exhibition must be collected by the artist within seven days, failing which, Absa will, within its sole discretion, be entitled to sell the artwork on behalf of the artist, or otherwise dispose of it. All efforts will be made to return the artwork directly to the artist or to a location within close proximity of the artist’s residence.


The adjudicators’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Absa and its partners are entitled to amend the terms and conditions thereof in so far as same is deemed necessary and such amendments may relate to any aspect of such competition, which may include the addition and/or deletion of any existing and/or proposed terms and conditions of the competition, which amendments may also affect the identified prize, including but not limited to the cash stipend of such competition.

The proposed amendments may be effected prior to the starting date of the competition and during the competition period, which amendments may result in the competition period being reduced and/or extended as deemed necessary and it is the participant’s responsibility to regularly check the website where the competition rules are made available for any amendments.

No participant will have any recourse or claim against Absa or its partners as a result of any amendment to these terms and conditions or as a result of Absa’s cancellation, termination or suspension of the competition and/or amendment of the prize.

Artists failing to take up their residency prize as per the indicated dates will forfeit their prize and will have no recourse against Absa or any of its partners.

On being announced as an Absa L’Atelier Ambassador, the winning artists will be required to sign a contract with Absa and SANAVA, accepting the terms and conditions of the prize.

The prize can under no circumstances be exchanged or swopped in any manner or form.

All people entering this competition (the entrants) agree that the competition rules as set out in these terms and conditions are binding on them.

The organiser of this competition is Absa. For purposes of this competition “Absa” means Absa Group Limited (registered number 1986/004794/06), all subsidiaries and associates of Absa Bank Limited and the ultimate holding company of Absa Group Limited, its subsidiaries and associates.

Entrants acknowledge that they have been given enough time to read these terms and conditions before entering into this competition. Entrants are aware of all the terms therein and by entering the competition, acknowledge as such.


Dr Paul Bayliss