Meet the judges: Igsaan Martin

Igsaan Martin is the director of Gallery MOMO Cape Town where he works with both established gallery artists and emerging artists from South Africa and its diaspora. He has a particular interest in video and new media art and enjoys getting stuck into the production of artists’ works and collaborating with creative collectives in Cape Town. Where he can, he assists with private collections, which allows him to broaden his knowledge and exposure within the art world.

Have you been involved in the capacity of judge in a major competition previously? What did you learn?

I was a regional judge in  both the PPC Imaginarium competition in 2016 and the Sasol New Signatures competition in 2017. I feel privileged to have been invited to judge the Sasol New Signatures competition again this year, and am particularly excited to have the opportunity as a national judge to view work from throughout South Africa.

In judging competitions, you learn a lot about how artists can use different and innovative mediums in their work, especially with new media, video and sculpture. You also learn from your fellow judges who are all experts in their respective fields. It’s important to be patient and take one’s time when viewing all of the entries. Whilst the first piece you see can be overwhelmingly impressive, undoubtedly so will every other piece you thereafter.

As a judge what will make you sit up and take notice?

Originality in the concept and medium used. So many young artists mimic established artists, where they should rather explore their own unique style within their medium.

Do you pay attention to international art competitions - if so which ones?

I always follow the Luxembourg Art Prize( ) which is an annual international competition aimed at discovering new talent, amateur or professional, regardless of age and nationality. I also track he Future Generation Art Prize ( presented by the PinchukArtCentre which is one of the largest private contemporary art centers in Central and Eastern Europe. This competition is a biannual global contemporary art prize with the main prize winner receiving US$ 100,000! I find it very encouraging to see how artists’ careers grow after winning the competitions.

What function does Sasol New Signatures have in the world of South African Art?

The competition provides a great platform for young artists trying to establish their careers. For many, it will be the first time they get to showcase their artworks in an exhibition that will be seen nationally.

What would you say to potential entrants? 

Think about the artworks you submit and put forward those you are most passionate about. If your artworks are not selected, keep trying to improve your art and continue entering the competition. See as many exhibitions as you can and visit public and commercial art galleries. This will help you obtain insight into current trends within the industry and determine how you can carve a way into it.

What narratives are emerging in South African art?

I see artists reflections on the current social political and economic status of the country through film or photography. There are many artists doing cross medium work, such as performance art with documentation of the performance.

If you were a collector what local artists would you be going after?   

Simphiwe Ndzube, Thania Petersen, Stephané Conradie and Igshaan Adams. They are all young South African artists doing amazing things locally and internationally.

If you could wave a magic wand and own any piece of South African Art - what would you choose and why?

A Dumile Feni Sculpture, preferably from his time in exile in New York in the 80’s.He produced such beautiful and meaningful work in that era of his career and if I had magic wand, that would be the piece.