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Cape Town artist John Pace has won the 2015 Sanlam Portrait Award for his portrait entitled After the Match (100 x 80cm, oil on canvas). The award, which aims to celebrate and showcase the best original portrait artwork in South Africa, was announced at a ceremony at the Rust-en-Vrede Art Gallery in Durbanville last night (27 August 2015). The Sanlam Portrait award is sponsored by Sanlam Private Wealth, in partnership with the Rust-en-Vrede Art Gallery.

Pace’s winning portrait beat 809 adjudicated entries to the top prize of R100 000. It will join 39 other selected entries in an exhibition to be held at Rust-en-Vrede Gallery until 8 October, where after the 40 works will tour South Africa in an exhibition presented in collaboration with the Sanlam Art Collection.

Stefan Hundt, head of Sanlam’s art advisory service and convenor of the judging panel, commended the judges for compiling a splendid selection of artworks. “With the quality of entries received this year it couldn’t have been an easy task to narrow it down to the top 40. We’re thankful for the time and effort they dedicated to determining the winner.”

The independent panel consisted of Tanya Poole, award winning artist and lecturer at Rhodes University, Craig Wylie, BP Portrait Award (UK) winner in 2008, from the United Kingdom and Ernestine White curator for Contemporary Art at the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town.

“The award winning portrait by Pace is skilfully traditional yet fresh in its approach to a ubiquitous subject that often graces the television screen and newspaper sports pages,” says Hundt.

Pace (56) resides in the Southern suburbs of Cape Town and has been in the advertising and design industry for the last 30 years. He’s been running his own design practice for the past ten years. Pace lives by the motto "mediocrity is expensive" and enjoys painting and drawing in his spare time. He attended the Durban Technikon from 1978- 1981 where he completed one year in Fine Art and two years in graphic design. He graduated with a Diploma in Graphic Design.

“While South African art reflects our country’s social and political evolution, our clients’ passion and investment interest in art continues to grow. This is why we established the Sanlam Portrait Award in partnership with the Rust-en-Vrede art gallery. This competition gives top local artists the opportunity to get invaluable exposure. Investors also have the opportunity to buy the artwork that is on exhibit,” says Daniël Kriel, CEO of Sanlam Private Wealth.

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Kriel is pleased by the response the award has received. “When we launched the Sanlam Portrait Award in 2013 in conjunction with Rust-and-Vrede art gallery we were unsure of the response it would receive. What began as a seedling idea became something wonderful, unique and something that we are incredibly proud to be involved in.”

KwaZulu-Natal artist Heather Gourlay-Conyngham walked off with the top prize for her nude male portrait entitled A Young Man (177 x 80cm, oil on canvas) in the first Sanlam Portrait Award, held in 2013. “Winning the 2013 title positively impacted my career as an artist,” says Gourlay-Conyngham.

“It’s the second year we’ve partnered with Sanlam Private Wealth, their support has been exceptional and we thank them for that,” says Hamlin Jansen van Vuuren, curator at the Rust-and-Vrede art gallery.

“Our congratulations extend to all the artists selected in the top 40 and all the other entrants who sent us beautiful work. We have once again been overwhelmed with the quality of work and the sheer range of skills displayed. Above all, congratulations to our 2015 Sanlam Portrait Award winner John Pace,” says Kriel.

For more information please visit www.sanlamportraitaward.co.za or www.rust-en-vrede.com

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