Wim Botha


All This

20 January - 26 February 2011

Michael Stevenson is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Wim Botha, his fifth at the gallery. The show features two large-scale sculptural installations.

The first group is relatively dark, dense and heavy. Composite figurative sculptures are carved from bibles, dictionaries, encyclopaedias and wood, in a continuing evolution of the paper busts for which Botha is known. These are suspended in space, fragmenting and morphing. While the elements of traditional portraiture suggest some kind of coherent identity, in this case nothing more concrete is delivered than a sense of flux and transition.

The second installation, titled Solipsis, is carved from polystyrene and incorporates a cluster of fluorescent tubes. This is an epic figurative group in the tradition of scenes of battle and conflict, as depicted in paintings and sculpture through the ages. Though the subject matter is violent, the brightness and lightness of the materials bring an almost otherworldly atmosphere to the installation, imbuing it with a dream-like quality. This is supported by the fragility of the material and the sense of delicacy and ephemerality that it creates.

Botha describes his use of this unusual sculptural material:

Polystyrene has a very specific character; it is lightweight, fragile and pristinely pure. From a distance it could resemble freshly carved marble, or snow. Using heavy gauge power tools, like chainsaws and grinders, this soft material allows for a very spontaneous and gestural way of sculpting, an approach that is normally very difficult to achieve in sculpture due to its physicality and technical restraints.

Born in 1974, Botha has previously presented solo shows at Michael Stevenson in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009. In 2010 he was awarded the commission for a public sculpture at the headquarters of Nedbank in Johannesburg, producing four monumental, abstracted trees constructed from metal and wood. Other recent solo shows have taken place at Brodie/Stevenson in Johannesburg and Galerie Jette Rudolph in Berlin (both 2008). Group exhibitions include the 11th Triennale für Kleinplastik in Fellbach, Germany (2010); Peekaboo - Current South Africa at the Tennis Palace Art Museum, Helsinki (2010); Disguise: The art of attracting and deflecting attention at Michael Stevenson (2008); and Political Iconography at Jette Rudolph, Berlin (2007). Botha was the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art in 2005.

Botha exhibits concurrently with Daniel Naudé.

The exhibition opens on Thursday 20 January, 6-8pm. The gallery is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturday 10am to 1pm.

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Solipsis - installation views and details
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