Immanuel Sithole inspires young artist and 2015 Sasol New Signatures award winner

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Immanuel Sithole inspires young Stellenbosch artist and 2015 Sasol New Signatures award winner 

Stellenbosch based Mareli Janse van Rensburg scooped the runner up award and a R25 000 cash prize in the 2015 Sasol New Signatures art competition for her compelling photographic submission titled, “The final moments of Immanuel Sithole”. 

Sasol New Signatures is an initiative of the Association of Arts Pretoria and is recognised as the longest running art competition of its kind in South Africa. 

This year, Sasol celebrates 26 years as the main sponsor, playing a pivotal role in unearthing new talent and providing a platform from which emerging artists can launch their careers. Sasol New Signatures is open to South African artists above the age of 18. This must be emerging artists who have never had a solo exhibition. 

Van Rensburg, a self-professed nature and music lover, said her winning work provides commentary on the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa. 

“’The final moments of Immanuel Sithole’ explored the brutal attack and subsequent death of the Mozambican national, and how the images of his death that were circulated by the media influenced her as an individual,” she explained.

“I took the images of his death that were published in the newspapers and used them to weave a mask. I then took 'selfies' wearing the mask. The ‘selfies’ are representative of how the media possesses the ability to construct the view of the public and how they desensitise the public to traumatising images. This mask shows me as an individual shielding myself against these images by totally embracing myself in them so they no longer have an effect on me.”

Giving an overview of the quality of submissions this year, Sasol New Signatures national chairman and competition judge Pieter Binsbergen said he was impressed by the excellent thought provoking work that was received. 

“Every piece had its own unique intricacy and gave us valuable insight into the complex inner workings of the artists’ mind.”   

He said the competition continues to build on its remarkable legacy in the pages of South Africa's art history, and that he is optimistic that all the winners and finalists will use the platform to launch their careers and grow in this field.

Art lovers and enthusiasts are encouraged to visit the Pretoria Art Museum from 3 September to 4 October 2015 to view the Sasol New Signatures art exhibition. The exhibition will also include 2014 winner Elizabeth Balcomb’s solo exhibition titled ‘Auguries of Innocence’.

For more information visit or contact Nandi Hilliard from the Association of Arts Pretoria on 012 346 3100 or