Wim Botha’s Heliostat shines a playful and subversive light on Western art traditions
Art Business

Wim Botha’s Heliostat shines a playful and subversive light on Western art traditions

Wim Botha’s Mielepap Pietá. Picture: SUPPLIED One of Wim Botha’s key artworks is a set of four linocut prints that mimics a classic Pierneef painting in format, media and style, but reads in sequence as a scene devastated in the darkest humour. A typical umbrella-branched tree, elegantly lonely in a black-and-white landscape, is torn to smithereens in Blastwave (2005). These are illustrations of revolution, art turned upside down. The four prints with an ambience of the patriotic — the stately turned to comic — characterise the constant theme that runs through the 44-year-old Botha’s oeuvre. His work is an unremitting engagement with the imagery and themes of art history, anchored and explored from within his identity and cultural background, grounded in contemporary art processes, and driven by what seems like compulsion to empower spaces and ignite the imagination of his audiences. The result is a riveting interplay between the aesthetic traditions of Western art, the signs and markers of past Afrikaans culture, and astoundingly original and playful inventiveness. Botha’s sense for the theatrical is precise and calculated. As Owen Martin, curator of Wim Botha: Heliostat at the Norval Foundation, writes in the catalogue, the artist’s work has an emotive […]

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