Standard Bank of SA Ltd

Standard Bank Young Artist

Standard Bank Young Artist

Below is the information on the Standard Bank Young Artist

Renaissance poet William Wordsworth wrote: “Pictures deface walls more often than they decorate them.” It’s an uncomfortable observation, and one that’s still sadly relevant today, perhaps more so than ever. There’s a proliferation of “art” out there, but works that resonate and play in the fleeting space between discomfort and joy is rare.


To be sure, there’s a great deal of subjectivity in art. But can we call it art if it operates only in safe and familiar spaces; if it speaks more to imitation than creativity and originality? Art’s function should be to make us think, feel, discover, confront; it shouldn’t always be easy or even pleasant, but dynamic and provoking, and should stay with us long after the viewing or interaction.

Luckily, we live in a country in which there is no short supply of artists who are at the forefront of their craft, and who are able to tap into South Africa’s rich and unique context to create art that succeeds not only in an aesthetic sense, but functions as social commentary. Art provides a lens from a nuanced and particular perspective, a self-expression that seeks to uplift its recipient or question the status quo while standing as valid in its own right.

In 1981, the National Arts Festival (NAF) established the Young Artist Awards to acknowledge emerging young South African artists who demonstrate outstanding artistic talent. These prestigious awards are presented annually to deserving artists in different disciplines, affording them national exposure and acclaim. Standard Bank took over the sponsorship of the awards in 1984 and has presented Young Artist Awards in all the major arts disciplines, as well as posthumous and special recognition awards. For the past 33 years, the Standard Bank Young Artist Awards have sought to recognise South African practitioners pushing the limits in their respective disciplines.

The awards are regarded as the most illustrious arts accolades in the country, and recognise established but relatively young South African artists who have not yet necessarily achieved national exposure or acclaim. The awards represent a concerted and sustained effort on the part of corporate South Africa to generate a rich artistic legacy by identifying, honouring and nurturing young and emerging South African artists.



The awards are regarded as the most illustrious arts accolades in the country, and recognise established but relatively young South African artists

The Standard Bank Young Artist Awards also form part of the NAF programme. A key aspect of the awards is that they guarantee the winning artists a place on the main programme of the following year’s festival. Apart from a cash prize, each winner receives substantial financial backing for a festival production/exhibition, thereby guaranteeing them exposure to a broader audience. Partnerships with institutions such as Standard Bank Gallery also provide a platform for winners in the visual art category to showcase their work in a widely recognised space.

The roll of past winners reads like a definitive list of South Africa’s creative talent, many of whom have gone on to gain international recognition. Luminaries such as visual artists William Kentridge, Jane Alexander, Brett Bailey, Pieter Hugo and Nicholas Hlobo; musicians Sibongile Khumalo, Johnny Clegg, Bongani Ndodana and Gloria Bosman; stage practitioners Andrew Buckland and Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom; director Akin Omotoso; and jazz extraordinaires Kesivan Naidoo, Bokani Dyer and Nduduzo Makhathini are just some of the previous recipients, representing some of the country’s most recognised artistic exports.

Recipients have proven themselves worthy of the prestige befitting the award through the work they have created

This year is no different. The recipients have proven themselves worthy of the prestige befitting the award through the work they have created, and the NAF Artistic Committee did not make their selections lightly, knowing that the 2017 group of Standard Bank Young Artists will fly South Africa’s artistic flag high locally and abroad for years to come.

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