Pretoria-based painter Banele Khoza is once again the talk of the art world after it was announced on Tuesday evening that the 23-year-old artist would be the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Gerard Sekoto Award.
The award means that Khoza will spend three months at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, awarded by the 32nd Absa L'Atelier Awards.
Khoza won the award for his piece "Note Making", which comprises a series of digital drawings printed with an inkjet printer. Through the pieces, Khoza questions representations of what it is to be a male in South Africa and within the broader social context.
"This [award] is for each person who thinks they are not good enough, but each day they work hard on themselves," Khoza said in his moving acceptance speech.
"You are told each day that you are beautiful, a winner, and talented enough, but the voice at the back of your mind tells you otherwise. This is the child who dreams what seems to be an impossible dream, bred from nothing. it is possible, believe and work hard enough, for your dreams are valid, you are worth it. Your ambition is key!"
The artist was also a big focus of the recent Johannesburg Art Fair, where his colourful painted nudes commissioned by Smith Studio Fine Art Gallery were in demand among both local and international collectors.
Khoza will be having a solo exhibition at Smith Studio Fine Art Gallery in Cape Town at the end of January 2018.
Kenyan artist Maral Bolouri, a previous 2015 L'Atelier Top 100 finalist, won the overall award for her installation Mothers and Others, a multisensory, interactive installation that investigates representations of women in African oral traditions. It explores the power of proverbs by juxtaposing negative and positive depictions of women in cultural truisms, and got Bolouri an extraordinary R300,000 prize money.
Khoza and Bolouri's work will be on exhibition, along with the other finalists for this year's awards from 14 September to 27 October at the Absa Gallery in Johannesburg.