Ravelle Pillay is this year's winner of the third iteration of the Emerging Painting Invitational.
Ravelle Pillay is this year's winner of the third iteration of the Emerging Painting Invitational.
Image: Supplied

Ravele Pillay, the SA artist, painter and archivist, is 2022’s winner of Africa’s largest invite-only event dedicated to painting, The Emerging Painting Invitational (EPI). The third iteration of the award was announced on February 16 and hosted by auction house Strauss & Co.

The grand prize went to Pillay, second prize to Natnael Ashebir of Ethiopia and Third Prize to Malebona Maphutse from SA. EPI is an international art platform to support and recognise the excellence of emerging African painters.

“Supporting the EPI prize is an important part of our ongoing commitment to young artists on the continent,” said Susie Goodman, Executive Director of Strauss & Co. “We were particularly encouraged this year to see outstanding work by artists from eight different African countries — Algeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, SA, Sudan, and Tunisia — with really strong woman artists making their voices heard.”

The Grand Prize of $3,000, sponsored by Strauss & Co, was awarded to Johannesburg artist, Ravelle Pillay. Pillay’s oil on canvas works titled ‘The Birthday Party I & II’ and ‘Cake’ are available to purchase on Strauss & Co’s EPI February Online-only auction. Pillay, a fine-arts alumni of Wits, focuses on ideas of family and migration along with personal and collective memory in a primarily paint and drawing medium. Her work was featured in the group exhibition Silence Calling from One Continent to Another at the Goodman Gallery, the 2021 FNB Art Joburg week and will be exhibited at the 2022 Investec Cape Town Art Fair.

Ravelle Pillay's Cake.
Ravelle Pillay's Cake.
Image: Supplied
Ravelle Pillay's The Birthday Party.
Ravelle Pillay's The Birthday Party.
Image: Supplied

The second prize of $2,000 was sponsored by the competition and was awarded to Natnael Ashebir for his acrylic on canvas works titled Layers of Life I, II, III. Ashebir works across a variety of media — painting, drawing, digital art and photography. He explores the layers of urbanisation, politics and social structures and has exhibited across his native Ethiopia, and Kenya and Nigeria.

Natnael Ashebir.
Natnael Ashebir.
Image: Supplied
Natnael Ashebir's Layers of Life.
Natnael Ashebir's Layers of Life.
Image: Supplied

The third prize of $1,000 and a residency at “This is not a White Cube Gallery” in Lisbon and Luanda, was sponsored by the African Art Galleries Association and presented to Malebona Maphutse (SA). She works in heterogeneous media, particularly painting, sculptural installation, linocut printing, digital prints and video art, challenging historical narratives and politics of space. Maphutse’s work has been exhibited at major international exhibitions including the Bergen Triennial 2019 and the Stellenbosch Triennial 2020.

Malebona Maphutse.
Malebona Maphutse.
Image: Supplied

Work by Abubakar Moaz (Sudan) received an encouragement award while honourable mentions went to Solomon Kifle (Ethiopia), Boeme Diale (SA) and Christian King Dusabe (Rwanda). Their work will be exhibited by Graham Contemporary in a group show in Johannesburg.

The jurors were an all-artist line-up including Jonathan Freemantle, Lavar Munroe and Nicky Marais, who selected winners based on mastery, promise and originality. The intensity of their artistic voice, diversity in technique and subject matter and understanding of the language of painting were essential judging criteria.

Three works by prize winners and finalists are available for sale on Strauss & Co’s EPI February online-only auction, which closes on February 21.

To register for the auction and browse the lots, click here.

For more information on the Emerging Painting Invitational Prize, click here.

Malebona Maphutse's Siyagoduka Rea Halala – Walk in the Light, Ride in the Light.
Malebona Maphutse's Siyagoduka Rea Halala – Walk in the Light, Ride in the Light.
Image: Supplied
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