domenica 22 giugno 2008


Willie Bester

The rise of Willie Bester from unknown artist holding a first exhibition (1988) to one internationally in demand a few years later has been meteoric.

Modus operandi:

Bester paints, often on extremely rough surfaces like sacking or crushed tins, and makes large assemblages, cutting and welding together found materials from the junkshop and the street, and incorporating objects of all kinds in order to make layered comments on aspects of South African history. The titles of some of his pieces reveal his concerns: Apartheid Laboratory, Ox Wagon, Death Machine

Artist's statement:

"What I try to get behind is why it is so difficult for people to change from their old ways. It hasn't worked out the way I imagined. People who thought they were superior before haven't really changed. I try to find out through studying history what gives people the right to think that way. I try to find a solution, not to be disappointed, to reach an understanding. The Truth Commission seemed to be one of the answers, but now I find that even the Truth Commission is a trap. It has done more damage than good, because the ANC was favoured over the Afrikaners. I want to do a series about it."


At a recent auction at Sotheby's in London of contemporary African art from the Pigozzi collection, Bester's painting Semikazi (1993) reached the astonishing figure of almost R110,000 - more than twice the pre-sale estimate. Jean Piggozzi is one of the major collectors of Bester's work. In Europe, Bester's piece Death Machine can be seen on the exhibition [[Rewind. Fast Forward. ZA]], at the Van Reekum Museum of Art in Apeldoorn, Holland. In Washington, he is on the exhibition at the National Museum for African Art, "Claiming art/Reclaiming Space: Post-Apartheid Art from South Africa".

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