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KZN artist reaches for stars with Africa competition win

Astral Msekeli sixth in continental talent search

Pictures: Supplied

Meander Chronicle Reporter

A KZN artist, Astral Msekeli, has drawn his name into the spotlight, emerging among the top 10 in BIC’s Art Master Africa competition.

Msekeli, a 22-year-old security guard from Ophongolo, was named South Africa’s national winner and was among three South Africans to emerge among the top 10 on the continent, placing sixth.

The competition encourages talent from across Africa and the Middle East to showcase their creativity and create a piece of art using a BIC Ball Pen.

Ugandan artist Gayi Eric was named the 2021 BIC Art Master of Africa. His portrait, titled “Circle of Life”, was created using four BIC Ball Pens and took 210 hours to complete.

Other South Africans recognised

Kamgaing from Cameroon, who developed the art piece titled ‘In My Room’, was announced as the second-placed winner. In third place was Odaro Franklin Osaivbie, from Nigeria, with “Entranced”. Other national winners included Badr el Abied from Morocco and Stanley Were from Kenya.

The other South Africans to feature in the top 10 were: Thuso Modikela, for the art piece “Flowers of the universe”; and Brandon Ponen, for “Roll the Dice”.

Commenting on his achievement and the inspiration for his artwork, “Ubuntu”, South Africa’s Msekeli said: “Creativity is important to me because it allows you to open up your mind to new thoughts on life in general and also brings new ideas. I found out about the competition on Facebook and knew I had to enter. My artwork ‘Ubuntu’ was inspired by my 91-year-old grandmother who told me to value every aspect of life and to have compassion for every living being as well as nature. My dream is to open an art centre, to build a space to allow young artists to create and showcase their work”.

Astral Msekeli’s awarded artwork ‘Ubuntu’.

The creative artwork was chosen from 6,350 entries submitted by more than 3,700 artists from 52 countries across the Middle East and Africa. Artists were requested to submit their work through the campaign’s microsite The work was shortlisted by a panel of judges including experts from BIC, renowned artists from the region, winners from previous Art Master Africa competitions, and art experts from Europe. Among the judges was the previous South African BIC Art Master winner, Ennock Mlangeni.

Cash prizes

The first-place winner received a cash prize of $US 2000 and will have their piece showcased at an online personalised gallery as well as at La Collection BIC – the company’s official contemporary art collection and exhibition. Second and third place winners have received a cash prize of $1000 and $500 respectively. Winners from across the region have received cash prizes as well as BIC hampers.

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Peter Van den Broeck, senior vice president and GM, Middle East and Africa said: “We are proud of the impact the Art Master Africa competition has had on talent in the region. BIC has a longstanding history with art, and the inception of the Art Master Africa competition has allowed us to support thousands of talented individuals across the region. With the competition expanding into the Middle East this year, we are confident we will continue to shine a bright light on talent across the region, creating a future generation of creative and inspiring individuals.”

The competition was started in SA in 2017. Following its success, it expanded to include the Africa region in 2019. This year, the competition included the Middle East for the first time, reaching more than 3,700 artists.

BIC has a number of established partnerships with art institutes around the world and has its products displayed in a number of renowned museums.

Now read: They’re my therapy, says young artist of black and white creations


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