National Art Competition Begins


Yinka Olatunbosun

For artists who have what it takes to compete, the 2016 edition of the National Art Competition organised by African Artists’ Foundation in collaboration with the Nigerian Breweries has been declared open. It was revealed during a press conference held at the Nigerian Breweries’ Bar last week where the call was made to the art community to get involved.

Each edition is driven by a theme that reflect current social issues. Now in its ninth year, the National Art Competition has showcased emerging talent in such diverse mediums as painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, installation, and video art. With a focus on the processes of artistic creation rather than solely the end product, artists are required to submit a proposal for an unrealized work.

After selecting from hundreds of entries, twelve finalists are invited to take part in an artist retreat, where workshops by leading artists, professors, gallery owners, and arts professionals allow finalists to flesh out the conceptual threads of their proposal and work together in a studio environment. Annually, the competition includes cash prizes totaling four and a half million naira and provides the artists both national and international exposure alongside exhibition opportunities. The grand prize winner goes home with a sum of N2million.

The Director, African Artists Foundation, Azu Nwagbogu, in his welcome address, said that his organisation is concerned about the global migration as well as the boundaries that we need to redefine.

“The grand finale last year was great but this year will be greater. We expect to improve on the quality of works,’’ he said.

The 2015 NAC Winners are Sabastine Ugwuoke who won the grand prize for “No Rest, No Comfort, Confusion Everywhere”; Winner Outstanding Concept: Ngozi Omeje who is the winner in two categories namely Outstanding Concept and Outstanding Production for her piece “Against all Odds.”

The Corporate Communication Adviser, Kufre Ekanem, while explaining the rationale for the competition, said the entries for this edition will close on September 25 and no late entry would be accommodated.

“The essence is to promote the conceptual development of the art in Nigeria and it is open to aspiring Nigerian artists. We don’t want finished works, just the proposal of the work. The platform is important to strengthening cultural values, talent development, youth empowerment, development of creativity and artists,’’ he said.

He declared as theme for this year’s edition “Shifting Boundaries” which he described as “an exploration of the porous, situational, and ever changing concept of the boundary through artworks that will discuss and embody what a boundary was, is, and will become in the 21st century.’’

The grand finale which will be held in October will be preceded by the artists’ retreat. Professor El Anatsui is the head of the artistic selection committee that will select this year’s winners.

Interested participants are expected to propose in writing accompanied with a sketch, a short plan of their interpretation and creative approach to the theme and applicants will be selected based on their written proposals and the submitted sketch.