'Words cannot tell how it feels' - Gauteng artist wins top prize at Investec Cape Town Art Fair

2019-02-18 08:46
Mongezi Ncaphayi, 35, has won the Africa First Art Prize at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair.

Mongezi Ncaphayi, 35, has won the Africa First Art Prize at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair. (Supplied)

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An artist from Benoni in Gauteng has secured himself the top prize at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair (ICTAF), which took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre over the weekend.

Mongezi Ncaphayi, 35, was announced the Africa First Art Prize (AFAP) winner on Friday.

"I feel overwhelmed and so grateful about the prize. I am so excited and words cannot tell how it feels," an excited Ncaphayi told News24.

Ncaphayi said when SMAC gallery, where his art is currently exhibited, told him that they had entered the competition on his behalf, he was not expecting to win.

He added that he was now inspired to work on more art that would give him recognition globally. 

"It [the prize] makes me want to do greater things. I am so excited and want to make more exciting work. This is a boost and gives me a platform," he said.

READ: Mickey Mouse gets an African makeover in time for his 90th birthday

'Professional artist'

Ncaphayi said when he was in primary school, his parents always used to get him sketchbooks.

He said his parents aspired that he would one day become an artist, but he never took that dream seriously.

"I never thought I would be a professional artist, it was something that I was just doing, then I stopped doing it for some reason and rediscovered it when I was much older," said Ncaphayi.

The fair ran from Friday 15 to Sunday 17 February and showcased a diversity of work that represented the forefront of contemporary art from Africa to the world.

The AFAP winner is selected by an esteemed jury headed by Serge Tiroche. The jury includes the Norval Foundation's chief curator Owen Martin, chief auctioneer and Swiss collector Simon de Pury, Paris-based independent curator and consultant Marie-Ann Yemsi and Nigerian visual and performance artist Wura-Natasha Ogunji.

Ncaphayi will be making his way to a two-month all-inclusive residency in Israel, where he will get the opportunity to work on his art and have it shipped to Cape Town for next year's fair.

The work produced during the trip will also be exhibited in the fair's VIP lounge.

Ncaphayi said he was working very closely with master printers who have shared a lot of skills with him.

"These kind of prizes are great recognition. It's great to be recognised for your work and so I am expecting to win more prizes," he said.

He described his work as "spiritual maps to a better tomorrow".


Ncaphayi said taking a look at all the negatives the world was faced with, he sought to understand it [the world] with his work.

"I've realised that the older I get, the uglier the world becomes. For me, I am trying to find a direction of where we are headed to as the human race," said Ncaphayi.

He added that his artwork was also therapeutic for him.

Zimbabwean artist Troy Makaza scored himself the Tomorrows/Today Prize. This category is awarded to the most exciting artist presentation and recognises emerging and under-represented artists. It is curated by the Fair Curator Tumelo Mosaka.

Makaza won a cash prize of R50 000 and has scored himself a solo exhibition at the museum.

Read more on:    cape town  |  good news  |  art

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