Wim Botha (1974 - )
‘Mnemonic reconstruction’, 2004

preparatory drawing, 28.5 x 50cm

Wim Botha was recently named the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2005. His work has featured on a number of international group exhibitions of the work of African and South African artists in the past year. He produced two new works for Personal affects: power and poetics in contemporary South African art, held at two venues in New York, the Museum for African Art and the Cathedral of St John the Divine. At the latter venue Botha presented his Mieliepap Pietà, a life-size mirrored replica of Michelangelo’s original, modeled in maize meal and epoxy resin. For Africa Remix, a survey of the art of the continent which opened at the Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf in 2004 and travels to London, Paris and Tokyo until 2006, he presented commune: onomatopoeia, a complex installation of a room, suggested by its suspended fixtures.

This drawing is a preparatory sketch for Mnemonic reconstruction, installed at the Museum for African Art. In this life-size installation a self-portrait bust looks over a suspended central element comprising four decaying hyenas running amok on a hexagonal table. The illusion of a room is created by a suspended grid of red stained-glass windows on one side, with imagery of a composite coat-of-arms, as well as etchings by Botha, in distressed frames, leaking water. In addition to subverting the sacred museological practice of climatic control it animates the installation, physically as well as in its possible implications.

Botha will hold his second solo gallery exhibition at Michael Stevenson in March/April 2005. Titled Cold fusion – gods, heroes and martyrs, his new work will fuse imagery based on Western precedent with local resonance, but incorporating elements of the meta-reality present in popular science fiction and Japanese anime. The works will 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 researched technique of near inexhaustible energy creation. Not unlike the works on show, it entails the combination of certain elements that result in a chain reaction where the end is more than the sum of the component parts.

© 2005 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.