MW | whitehot contemporary art magazine

Sana Chamekh, Mad, Mad Love, 2020. Pencil and transfer on paper, 42 x 29.7 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

By PETRA MASONFebruary 2022

Although my personal interest in art competitions is the “pop” of champagne at after parties, many offer prizes that could make a huge difference in the winner’s life.

So what about art contests? Aim most nobly at the pursuit of excellence, or promote and encourage at a national level, but there is only one on the African continent that is truly pan-African, and that is the Harare-based Emerging Painting Invitational (EPI), an initiative dedicated to supporting painters and emerging contemporary painting.

Although the PPE offers the opportunity to recruit new talent at prizes from emerging artists, it is one of the few competitions that is on the radar of some heavyweight collectors. The jurors are all artists, making it less of a corporate contest and more empowering as peers and mentors. share the same practice.

Ravelle Pillay, Cake, 2021. Oil on canvas, 61 x 61 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Although EPI was started by some of the early sponsors, it quickly became financially independent through the sale of artwork through the powerful auction dedicated to Strauss & Co.

This year, EPI’s third year, all of the painters’ paintings will be showcased simultaneously on the Association of African Art Galleries (AAGA), Emerging Painting Invitational and Strauss & Co platforms.

A much-anticipated program of studio tours, classes and panel discussions kicks off online Feb. 9, sales open online Feb. 14 at Strauss & Co and concludes with an in-person Strauss & Co VIP party in Cape Town on the 16th to announce the three cash prize winners. The dedicated PPE online auction ends on February 21 and features three of the 16 PPE finalists from 8 African countries, namely Rwanda, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Algeria, Sudan , Kenya, Angola and South Africa.

Khotso Motsoeneng, Out of the Blue, 2021. Acrylic on canvas, 71 x 61 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

To be eligible for PPE, artists must live and work on the mainland, be under 30 and have painting as their primary discipline.

First Floor Gallery (Harare, Zimbabwe) Director and co-founder of AAGA and EPI, Valérie Kabov explains the motivations of EPI:

While contemporary African art is booming internationally, developing skills and engaging in the international art world remains a challenge for many young painters from the continent. EPI intends to contribute to motivating, supporting and developing the practices and careers of young African visual artists. Supporting emerging painters is not only hugely important culturally, it is about ensuring the economic sustainability of local artistic sectors. EPI was developed with a holistic view of art on the continent.

The finalists’ paintings, detailed profiles and event program will be visible on the Emerging Painting Invitational website. WM

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