Winners Circle | Sasol New Signatures

Winners Circle

Winner 2021
Winner
Andrea du Plessis

Andrea du Plessis is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Cape Town, specialising primarily in traditional painting and new media. She studied Fine Arts at the University of Pretoria, completed a postgraduate diploma in Art Therapy in the UK, and is currently studying towards a degree in Multimedia Digital Visual Arts at the University of South Africa. Du Plessis uses her practice as a means of exploring humanity’s complex relationship to both nature and technology. The Covid-19 pandemic sparked her interest in the sublime experience and the interplay between nature, technology, and spirituality.

Paloceae Lupantozoa Multimedia
oil on canvas
augmented reality interaction
53 cm x 63 cm

Paloceae Lupantozoa is inspired by Martin Johnson Heade’s “Orchids and Hummingbirds” series. The artwork consists of a painting created through the traditional oil on canvas technique that can also be experienced as a multi-sensory animated video. The video component of the artwork, which includes sound, is accessed via an Augmented Reality (AR) animation of the oil painting. By downloading an App on their digital device and pointing their camera towards the painting, viewers activate the Artificial Intelligence sound and video animation sequence which literally brings the painting to life on their digital device. 

The oil painting and AR video create a link between past and contemporary representations and experiences of nature. By juxtaposing the 19th century Romantic tradition of painting with emerging technologies, the artwork creates a tension-filled interface, momentarily transporting the viewer into a familiar yet alien world. But most crucially, experienced in its multiple modalities, the artwork offers the viewer an opportunity to reflect on their relationship with nature and our changing landscape.

 

Runner Up
Dalli Weyers

Dalli Weyers is an activist, social democrat, and queer atheist with a bent for art, visual communication, and politics. Weyers is currently employed as a Human Rights Officer with the South African Human Rights Commission. Weyers has been involved in multiple social justice initiatives such as, but not limited to, designing fliers and posters for the Treatment Action Campaign (2005-2009), offering workshops to the school going members for Equal Education’s Equalisers on apartheid and global social justice struggle iconography and poster design (2009-2011), designing the Ndifuna Ukwazi logo (2011), and most recently giving input into the visual language used by the Khayelitsha-based Social Justice Coalition in print, media, and protest.

Forward: A Manifesto
Plastic bags
124,5 cm x 88,5 cm

This artwork is a metatextual manifesto that reflects on the historical role of the manifesto and the need for this specific manifesto created by the artist at this moment in the everunfolding story of humanity. Forward: A manifesto draws from the archive to inform our response to the uncertainties of today.

The use of the artist’s preferred medium, plastic bags, is made poignant by both the permanence and fragility of plastic bags. Plastic bags, through a process of photodegradation, disintegrate but don’t break down completely. Instead, they turn into microplastics that remain in the environment for centuries. The use of this medium thus reflects both the detritus and progress made throughout history – both present and unseen – that the manifesto hopes to draw from and address.

 

Merit Award
Nico Athene

Cultivating our Unbecoming: with Gabrielle Youngleson and Johno Mellish (2021)
Diasec
66,5 cm x 76,5 cm

This work was made during hard lockdown, pre-vaccine when the artist was locked in with their grandmother, Gabrielle Youngleson, who had just turned 90. Johno Mellish captured the photograph through the window. The photograph describes the mutual precarity created by the pandemic, a precarity that continues to be so through escalating inequality and the deepening of the climate crisis.

To frame a thing is to decide ‘who is looking’ and ‘what is important’ and reinforces the colonial and patriarchal imagination that we exist as autonomous individuals and not as beings communally created. The frame is deliberately included as part of the artwork along with its shadow so to dispel the fallacy of individualism. The artwork is a gesture towards the fact that nothing exists, nor is created or authored independent of a wider relational ecology, evidenced in this intimate image of the artist massaging their grandmother.

 

Merit Award
Michèle Deeks

Pandemic
Mixed media
92 cm x 88 cm

This mixed-media artwork tells the story of the artist’s experience and impressions of living through a global Pandemic, especially as it continues to affect our world today and is no longer just an episode from history books. 

From the time that it was first identified, Covid-19 significantly affected everybody’s experience of the world. News media bombarded everyone with images and stories of suffering from different parts of the world. Working predominantly in stitch, the artist captures both visually and symbolically, the reduced sense of space and control she felt during lockdown. The process of sewing enabled the artist to enter a peaceful state of contemplation and reflection during this crazy and troubling moment. 

 

Merit Award
Sibanzi Dlatu

A story of resiliency
Fired clay (bisque)
Installation: 20 cm x 200 cm x 80 cm

This clay installation draws inspiration from the resilient spirit of destitute South Africans during the Covid-19 pandemic and acknowledges their fight for survival amidst a humanitarian crisis.

Distorted clay figures stand in lines awaiting access to basic services. The figures represent the anxiety, frustration, and uncertainty faced by those who are at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid. Throughout the country marginalised citizens formed queues to receive social relief grants provided by the government. This artwork is a homage to the steadfast resilience that keeps the masses going, as seen in how they continue to form long lines on an almost daily basis – hopeful for change and a better tomorrow. Viewers are encouraged to see themselves in these miniature figures, to feel the mood, and imagine the experience of queueing for one’s humanity to be acknowledged.

 

Merit Award
Eugene Mthobisi Hlophe

The new crazy normal
Photography
50 cm x 67,5 cm

This artwork comments on the tough conditions of being a learner and teacher in peri-urban and rural spaces. The overcrowded classrooms, under delivery of basic services and poor infrastructure at these schools make it nearly impossible for teachers to deliver quality education and high success rates. To create this artwork, the artist took a photograph from one of his classrooms where disposable face masks had been reused as chalkboard dusters. This poetic visual captures the literal and symbolic suffocation experienced by educators and learners because of Covid-19.

On the one hand, the education of learners from the peri-urban and rural schools, who are mostly black, was devastated because learners had no access to data and limited technology that could help them stay connected with their educators. And on the other hand, there was an increase in the number of educators who lost their lives due to Covid-19. 

 

Merit Award
Monica Klopper

Choice
Shed snake skin and epoxy
154 cm x 44 cm

This delicate arrangement of shed snakeskins represents the artist’s personal experience growing up in the church, which was a restricted, programmed, and judgemental environment. The dress is an exact replica of the artist’s original baptism dress and is also hanging on its original hanger.

In the teachings of the religion the artist was groomed under, a snake is metaphor for the serpent and the devil himself. In this artwork the snakeskin depicts the battle of going against the social perception of what is truly evil or deemed so. 

The dress embodies the old self of the artist being shed from previous dogmatic beliefs, perspectives, and knowledge of religion. The dress should not be viewed in a negative way but should be seen as a constant reminder of the old self that has been renewed. 

Judges

A special thank you to our judges.

Sasol and the Association of Arts would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the Sasol New Signatures judges, both regionally and nationally, who give of their valuable time to evaluate and select the winners from the hundreds of entries received.

Thank you for your great contribution to the success of this magnificent exhibition.