Absa L’Atelier Arts Competition 2024 for Young African Artists (Fully-funded to Paris, France)

L’Atelier is one of Africa’s most prestigious art competitions. It rewards young visual artists aged 21 to 35 with the opportunity to develop their talents abroad. A look through the list of previous winners will testify to this.

Application Deadline: 31st May 2023 at 16:00 (CAT)

Eligible Countries: 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.

About the Award: Building on the platform created over the past two years, the competition is continuing to expand across Africa, opening in a number of countries, where Barclays Africa has a presence.

The L’Atelier competition sets the stage for approximately 100 young artists each year to promote their work by exhibiting at the Absa Gallery, in Johannesburg, South Africa, and having their work documented in a sought-after catalogue.

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.
  • 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.

Type: Contest


  • The competition is open to all artists who are not younger than 21 and not older than 40 in March 2023. 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.

Selection Criteria: The criteria for the adjudication both at the regional and national levels revolves 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.

Value of Award: 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 an 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 ambassadors to take up their prize concurrently.
  • Each ambassador to be provided with a new laptop which would be loaded with the latest Windows and MS Office Package.
  • Each ambassador will be provided with sufficient data to connect to the internet enabling them to attend all online sessions.
  • The first part of the prize would be divided into two parts.
  • For the first part of their prize, the ambassadors will enjoy ten intensive masterclasses, with each masterclass allocated 90 minutes in duration. Virtual platforms allow for the masterclasses to be held with leading experts from across the globe. The participation by the ambassadors in the masterclasses is compulsory. The masterclasses will cover the following topics:
    • MC1: Building up an art portfolio
    • MC2: Media training
    • MC3: Audience development and public relations
    • MC4: Fundraising and proposal writing
    • MC5: Dealing with Galleries, which would include how to engage with galleries, pricing of artwork, contracts, issues around consignments and developing sale agreements
    • MC6: Budgeting and managing your finances
    • MC7: Importance of contracts, wills and trusts (including intellectual property)
    • MC8: Developing exhibitions within the virtual space
    • MC9: Developing, identifying, maintaining and making the most of opportunities in developing your career as an artist.
    • MC10: How to maintain and grow relationships with peers, gallerists, curators, donors, buyers and industry leaders.
  • For the second part of the prize, the ambassadors are paired with a local leading authority from their respective country within the visual arts who will mentor them over a three-month period. Participation by the ambassadors in the mentoring programme is compulsory. During these sessions the ambassador will work with their mentor towards their group exhibition that will take place in the Absa Gallery at the end of the year and, thereafter, travel to each of the ambassador’s respective countries the following year. All materials required for the putting together of this exhibition will be covered, within reason, by Absa.
  • Each ambassador will have an option of taking up a solo exhibition in the Absa Gallery within a five- year period of winning the prize.
  • The masterclass, mentoring and collaborative exhibition to take place in 2024.

The Gerard Sekoto Award

The Alliance Française, the Institut Français d’Afrique du Sud and the French Embassy in South Africa are sponsoring the Gerard Sekoto Award for the most promising South African artist who demonstrates continual growth in their work.

This prize consists of a return flight ticket to Paris, three months’ residence in the Cité Internationale des Arts, nationwide touring of exhibitions in France and French language tutoring. 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 2024.

How to Apply: Interested applicants must go through the Program Webpage (see Link below) for application information BEFORE APPLYING.


Visit the Program Webpage for Details

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