1 March - 20 July 2013



The Stellenbosch University Wordfest in collaboration with the Sasol Art Museum and Stevenson presents a solo exhibition by Wim Botha as US Wordfest Artist 2013.

Botha's exhibition at the Sasol Art Museum consists of a large-scale installation sculpture made of polystyrene and fluorescent tubing. This work is the fifth in a series entitled Solipsis. Previous exhibits were displayed in Cape Town, Berlin, Gothenburg and Johannesburg. Each project is made specifically for a particular space.

The work takes the shape of an epic group, a composition of form and line, wings and fluorescent lights. In spite of the dramatic composition, the lightness and vividness of the elements result in an almost supernatural atmosphere which lends a dreamlike atmosphere. This mood is enhanced by the vulnerability of the material and a sense of delicate transience.

Botha fragments traditional baroque sculptural planes to convey a complexity of forms, creating three-dimensional sketches of light and lightness in space. A cacophony of wings bunch around a construction of fluorescent tubing, suggesting some epic and urgent commotion, in which we have neither part, nor insight.

The title, Solipsis, refers to the philosophical view that the existence of the self is the only reality that is directly verifiable. I know that I exist, since I have experiences and consciousness (cf Descartes: Cogito ergo sum). Solipsism takes the implications of this view further. If the self is the only verifiable reality, it follows that the self is possibly also the only reality: that the self gradually evokes the world and all there is in it, drawing it out of the imagination. Indeed, the lights, the ethereal nature of the materials, the shimmering white light and constructivist structure suggest a fleeting existence that can evaporate or transmogrify at any moment.

This illusory space is situated in the realm of the immaterial. For the artist, this is a world 'the nature of which is indeterminate - situated somewhere between a parallel meta-reality that mimics our own and an internal mind-space, an entirely imaginary world that is private and obscure'.

Botha's polystyrene installations spring from a desire to create large-scale sculptures in a way that invites spontaneity, improvisation and coincidence. He hopes to exploit the relationship between control and accident - something that is not usually possible when working with traditional sculpting materials.

The work is epic in scale and composition, and the visual images are powerful and dynamic, but the installation as a whole appears as an illusion, a phantom, a metaphysical space or an alternative to the binary reality which conditions our existence. And our belief in the construction of the world as we know it may be temporarily suspended.

The exhibition has been extended until 20 July 2013.