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WIM BOTHA (article first published : 2005-11-10)

Wim Botha’s travelling exhibition began its year-long tour at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and concludes its run at the Standard Bank Gallery in July 2006.

The artist works in multiple media, with sculptures, etchings, paintings and drawings all forming part of his intricate installations. These reflect on and subvert the symbolic imagery of power, religion and art history. By visually interfering with venerated forms of art, artefact and decoration, he offers questions related to the underlying implications of systems and structures that attempt to define who we are. In several of his installations this subversion alludes to the systemic decay inherent in symbolic representations related to power. This is coupled with a reconstructive desire, simulating found imagery in an altered way that allows the possibility of a revision of our assumptions.

Wim Botha graduated from the University of Pretoria in 1996 and has since become one of the most prominent young contemporary artists in South Africa.

Included in his Standard Bank Young Artist exhibition is the Mieliepap Pietà, a life-size mirrored replica of Michelangelo’s original, modelled in maize meal and epoxy resin. The sculpture was first exhibited at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York in 2004, as part of the group exhibition Personal Affects: Power and poetics in contemporary South African art, where it alternately offered subtle comment on western traditions and was appropriated by worshippers as part of the fabric of the church.

Wim Botha is also well known for his Christ figure carved out of bibles, titled commune: suspension of disbelief, which hangs in the Johannesburg Art Gallery, and commune: onomatopoeia, a complex installation of a suspended room, which is currently touring Europe on Africa Remix, a survey of the contemporary art of the continent.

He has held four solo shows and his work has been included on group exhibitions nationally and internationally. He has also received other prestigious awards, including the prize for best artwork at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in 2001, being named festival artist at the KKNK in 2003, and sharing the first annual Tollman award with Churchill Madikida in 2003.

The exhibition will run at the Durban Art Gallery from November 23 to January 27, 2006.




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