Wim Botha

Wim Botha


For Wim Botha, the printed word is both mundane material and universal meaning. Botha's use of timeless and time-bound material, the combination of different materials in his works reflects on how knowledge shapes personal and public memory and determines and distorts power. The treatment of different materials (paper, wood, marble, polystyrene, salt ...) is often spontaneous and guided by the material. His visual language, on the other hand, is charged with centuries of complex meanings - a juxtaposition of intuition and intentionality. He loves the challenge of representing images from Christianity, classical mythology, European art history, which are strongly imprinted and assimilated in the communal psyche, in a completely different way in search of new meanings. The struggle for these representations, is becoming more and more difficult in a digital age where knowledge acquisition and transmission is becoming more and more elusive.

Wim Botha was for a time South Africa's largest Bible buyer, which he used for large-scale sculptures.

Botha is a man who wrestles existentially with himself and the enigma of being human. Physics and metaphysics, reality and yet the unseen, double and parallel worlds that lie side by side yet mirror our own. An allusion to the polarities of nature and technology?
What emerges is a vision of the sublime - of beauty and horror, which goes hand in hand with the artist's search for meaning in a finite span of life. The most alive we can be, then, is the pursuit of questions, not answers. To be dissatisfied is to criticize the content and free it from its traditional conventions, to liberate the materials and metaphors of figure, landscape, and still life so that art can tell a variety of stories that end in question marks.

Botha depicts the Christ on the cross as a "figure in the landscape" ... Jesus as an "ordinary man", in suggested surroundings of an interior, an open landscape, cut/sculpted from Bibles, the gold cut as a crown of thorns. All valences reversed, questioned, fragile ... and yet stabilized in a "painful way" by the screws, which are reminiscent of medical or technical utensils.

In Botha's Prisma series (cast bronze on pedestal), pleasure and pain, beauty and horror, life and death collide on a grand scale. His sculpture here is reminiscent of gestural brushstrokes.

Botha was born in Pretoria in 1974. He graduated from the University of Pretoria with a BA (Visual Art) in 1996. He lives in Cape Town.

He has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Helgaard Steyn Prize for sculpture in 2013, the Standard Bank Young Artist Award in 2005, and the first Tollman Award in 2003. Recent solo exhibitions have taken place at the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville (2020); North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, and the 21c Museum Hotel in Durham (2019); the Norval Foundation (2018); Galerie Hans Mayer (2017); Feldbusch Wiesner Rudolph (2017, 2019, 2021); Fondation Blachère in Apt, France (2016); Galerie Jette Rudolph, Berlin (2015); the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown (2014); Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria (2013), and the Sasol Art Museum, Stellenbosch, as the Stellenbosch University Wordfest Artist for 2013.

Notable group exhibitions include Sculpture at the Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean (2018); The Divine Comedy: Heaven, purgatory and hell revisited by contemporary African artists at MMK (Museum für Moderne Kunst), Frankfurt, Germany, travelling to other venues (2014-5); Lichtspiele at Museum Biedermann, Donaueschingen, Germany (2014); Imaginary Fact: South African Art and the Archive, the South African Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013); The Rainbow Nation, Museum Beelden aan Zee, The Hague (2012); the Göteborg Biennial, Sweden (2011); Memories of the Future: The Olbricht Collection, La Maison Rouge, Paris (2011); the 11th Triennale für Kleinplastik, Fellbach, Germany (2010); Peekaboo: Current South Africa, Tennis Palace Art Museum, Helsinki (2010); Olvida Quien Soy - Erase me from who I am, Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (2006); the seventh edition of Dak'Art, the Dakar Biennale (2006); and the touring exhibition Africa Remix (2004-2007).


Showing the single artwork