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TUT celebrates its third Absa L’Atelier winner

by Gerrit Bester A three-month-long residency in Paris, France awaits Malebogo Naticia Molokoane (32), a Master’s degree student and part-time lecturer at the Department of Fine and Studio Arts, after being announced winner of the 2022 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award in September. The award is made annually as part of the Absa L’Atelier art competition, one of Africa’s most prestigious art competitions, which has been running for 36 years and is hosted by Absa in partnership with the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA).

The Gerard Sekoto Award goes to a South African artist who has continued to demonstrate integrity in the quality of their artwork. The award is made possible by the Embassy of France in South Africa, the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), which is the cultural arm of the Embassy, and the Alliance Française network in South Africa.

Molokoane’s work draws inspiration from the concept of concealed faces, exploring the personal emotions hidden behind facial expressions. "We often question whether the face we see in the mirror is ours and from where our thoughts come. My body of work reveals the traits of emotional gestures and facial expressions. I attribute these traits depicted in my art to creating memories," says Molokoane of her winning portfolio. The portfolio consists of four works, titled Hidden Emotions, Now you see me, Strength and Beauty, and The Unexpected.

Asked about the honour and prize, Molokoane says: "Personally, it is an affirmation never to stop believing, and that there's really no limits to what you can do. Professionally, it reminds me of where I started, and that hard work pays off."

She won a three-month-long residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts, from April to June 2023, and a travelling exhibition throughout South Africa that will first open at the Absa Gallery in 2024. It will be her first time abroad.

"I’m looking forward to networking with and learning from other glass artists and representing South Africa and Southern African glass artists," says Molokoane. She adds that she will also use the opportunity to enhance her knowledge of glass art and make sure that everyone takes note of Southern African glass artists and the Tshwane University of Technology (boasting the only Arts campus with a glass studio).

The Cité Internationale des Arts is an artist-in-residence building that accommodates artists of all specialities and nationalities in Paris. It comprises two sites, one located in the Marais and the other in Montmartre.

In congratulating Molokoane, Dr Pfunzo Sidogi, Head of the Department of Fine and Studio Arts, says: "We are extremely proud of Molokoane’s achievement. Molokoane produces artworks in the glass medium, and this award is an important recognition of glass art as a significant art form in contemporary South African art practice. Furthermore, we feel that the award was written in the stars because last year TUT renamed one of the painting studios as the Gerard Sekoto Building, and less than a year later, one of our students is a winner of the Gerard Sekoto Award." Previous winners from TUT include Banele Khoza and Philiswa Lila, who is also a part-time lecturer at the Department of Fine and Studio Arts.

For further information about Absa L’Atelier winners, visit

Malebogo Naticia Molokoane (32), winner of the 2022 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award.

Molokoane’s winning portfolio, respectively titled Hidden Emotions, Now you see me, Strength and Beauty, and The Unexpected.

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