Wim Botha
Apocalagnosia

11 January - 10 February 2007

Michael Stevenson is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Wim Botha, his third at the gallery following Cold Fusion: Gods, heroes and martyrs in 2005 and Speculum in 2003. Botha was the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2005, and his exhibition A Premonition of War toured South Africa in 2005/6.

The title of Botha's exhibition is a neologism formed by combining 'apocalypse' and 'agnosia'. Botha notes that 'apocalypse' is generally understood to mean the end of the world, but in fact literally means revelation or unveiling (of knowledge), while agnosia is a neurological condition which, according to one definition, results in 'an inability to know, to name, to identify, and to extract meaning from visual, auditory, or tactile impressions'. The word thus implies our inability to truly possess knowledge about the world even as it reveals itself to us.

This tension between knowledge revealed and our inability to comprehend it has consequences for the viewer of Botha's work who, while reading the artistic language of signs and materials, is aware that the artist's intentions can never be fully grasped. The existence of multiple inherent contradictions is a central theme of the exhibition. Another is the polarity between life and death.

The works include Apocalumbilicus, a life-size linoprint depicting a skeleton adult and baby, their pose echoing that of the mythological figure Silenus tenderly cradling the baby Bacchus in a sculpture in the collection of the Vatican Museum. In the central installation, Sublimation, two carved wooden skulls face each other at either end of strips of parquet flooring which erupt towards the centre, pushed upwards by, on the one side, marble dust and, on the other, maize meal. In the middle, a burnt wooden chandelier rotates slowly, suggesting both the mill that grinds a substance into a finer form and the continuation of life cycles. In the back room, pen drawings in the style of natural studies, aged as if they were drawn a long time ago, depict a magnificent antelope that is also a genetic freak of nature, one of its horns turning inwards so that the tip penetrates its skull, and a praying mantis, an efficient predator which in turn has an elaborate leafy disguise for its own protection. The paper sculpture, Generic Self-portrait as a Superior Hybrid, is the head of a Boer goat, the product of South African genetic engineering to produce a hardy, nutritious animal, and is carved from Afrikaans-English dictionary pages that speak to the artist's heritage.

Botha's work features on the exhibition Africa Remix which has been seen in Düsseldorf, London, Paris, Tokyo and Stockholm, and culminates its tour at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2007. He was included on Olvida quien soy - Erase me from who I am at the Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno in Las Palmas in February 2006; the seventh edition of Dak'Art, the Dakar Biennale, in May, and on Afrique Europe: Rêves Croisés in Brussels in November. He has been selected for Trans Cape, taking place in Cape Town in March 2007.



Apocalumbilicus



Apocalumbilicus



Sublimation
Sold



Sublimation
Sold



Afterimage
Sold



Afterimage
Sold



Generic Self-portrait as a Superior Hybrid
Sold



Generic Self-portrait as a Superior Hybrid
Sold



Tragelaphus Strepsiceros (Greater Kudu)
Sold



Phyllocrania Paradoxa (Ghost Mantis)
Sold


For more information contact +27 (0)21 421 2575 or fax +27 (0)21 421 2578 or email info@michaelstevenson.com.

© 2006 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.