Wim Botha, the Standard Bank Young Artist for 2005, holds his second solo exhibition at Michael Stevenson from 17 March to April 30 2005.
Botha works in multiple media, with sculptures, prints, 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, the artist 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.
His solo exhibition at Michael Stevenson features new work that continues and expands on this process, again fusing imagery based on Western precedent with local resonance, but also incorporating elements of the meta-reality present in popular science fiction and Japanese anime. The works attempt a larger scope, referring to global concerns and the effects of ideologies on individuals and groups in conflict. The title of the exhibition, Cold Fusion, refers to the holy grail of present-day electrochemistry, a fiercely debated and much researched technique of inexhaustible energy creation. Not unlike the works on show, it entails the combination of certain elements resulting in a chain reaction where the end is more than the sum of the parts.
Key works include a simulated pressed lead ceiling, fragmented and exploding; a violent sculpture of a young Leda and the Swan made out of bone meal and epoxy resin; small, painstakingly detailed bronze sculptures of a satyr annihilating the god Bacchus, and Isaac turning on Abraham; photographs of clouds made up of a myriad puzzle pieces and a pastel stained-glass window of a nuclear mushroom cloud.