Thu Oct 27 07:12:21 CAT 2016

'Invest in the fine arts'

By unknown | Mar 18, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Canaan Mdletshe

One of KwaZulu-Natal's coveted Absa L'Atelier Art Awards finalists, Welcome Danca, of rural Gcilima area in Port Shepstone, has urged black people to invest in fine arts.

The yearly competition, now in its 24th year, is the longest running art competition in Africa.

Endorsed by the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (Sanava), the Absa L'Atelier has become an essential landmark in the lives of young artists aged 21 to 35.

Danca, 30, is one of five provincial finalists whose art was selected to compete with that of other finalists from the other eight provinces at a gala exhibition to be held in Johannesburg on July 23.

The award comes with a R110000 cash prize and a six-month sabbatical at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France, courtesy of Absa Bank.

The second prize is awarded for the Most Promising Artist with an income of less than R60000 a year, comprising a three-month sabbatical at the Cité, French language classes and nationwide touring exhibitions sponsored by the French embassy, the French Institute and the Alliance Française.

Both top prizes include air fares and free access to galleries and museums in Paris, giving young artists the opportunity to develop their talents and gain exposure to the international art community.

Four runner-ups will each pocket R25000 and the top 10 finalists will each receive a R2000 bonus prize.

Danca was introduced to art in 1997. "I remember that we had to struggle as we would work under a tree, using oil paint, which easily dried up.

"But I could not give up because art was in my veins.

"I loved what I was doing with all my heart. And I remember that my first painting earned me R250, which was the biggest money ever for me," he said.

Danca said his love for art grew from strength to strength, and dedication paid off when he won a whopping cheque for R20000 in 2005.

"From there, I told myself that this is what I will do for the rest of my life. I am so passionate about what I am doing," he said.

Danca urged black people to buy art, saying it's big investment. "Black people don't have interest in art. When you visit their homes, you will find them hanging pictures of themselves or religious pictures, and when you visit a white person's home, you find big pictures of art because they know that it is investment.

"You can buy a painting for R15000 today, and when you sell it in 10 years ... the price has doubled," he said.

Danca's rare talent has been noticed by one hotel in Cape Town, which is buying his work. "You can make a living through art, but it is not easy because today you can be lucky enough to sell your painting for R20000, and for the next three or four months no one is buying, so it teaches you to save," he said.

Absa's regional manager Themba Mathe said they believed that they had a duty not only to create economical wealth but also to give up-and-coming artists a platform to showcase their talents.

"Black people are very creative, and all they need is an opportunity to showcase what is their God-given talent.

"Sculpture has been part of us for a long time, but lacked a platform, which is something we are providing," said Mathe.


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