Conrad Botes


Crime and Punishment

13 August - 5 September 2009

In his latest body of work Conrad Botes takes the title of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's famous novel as a starting point to explore the intricacies of guilt and complicity and their relationship to violence.

These are recurrent obsessions for Botes, whose previous solo show, Cain and Abel (at Michael Stevenson in January 2009), reflected on the origins of violence by invoking the very first tale of murder as related in the Bible and Qu'ran. Botes uses archetypal stories embedded in the psyche as a framework or prism through which to explore political and social issues that are of relevance today. These allegorical works convey a pervasive sense of horror, a feeling the artist has described as 'like shrapnel under the skin'. Works on the exhibition will take the form of wall drawings, large-scale reverse glass paintings, sculpture and installation.

Botes (born 1969) was the co-founder of the Bitterkomix series, alongside his frequent collaborator Anton Kannemeyer, and since the early 1990s they have constantly provoked South Africans in their beliefs about race, sex and religion. His biting critique reflects on his Calvinistic upbringing in apartheid South Africa, expressing the ironies and paradoxes of spiritual and political bankruptcy through his distinctive graphic imagery.

Botes is the invited artist at the Aardklop arts festival in Potchefstrrom, opening 29 September. He participated in the 2009 Festival international de la bande dessinee de Angoulême in France. Other recent group exhibitions include the third Guangzhou Triennial, China (2008); Apartheid: The South African Mirror at the Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona (2007); Africa Comics at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2007); Turbulence at Hangar-7 in Salzburg, Austria (2007); and the ninth Havana Biennale, Cuba (2006).

The exhibition will open on Thursday 13 August, 6-8pm. The gallery is open from Tuesday to Friday, 10.30am to 5.30pm, and Saturday from 9.30am to 3pm.

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