2017 | NYC | Artist
Lawyer 2012, Jelutong wood and oil based paint, 95x20x20cm
Conrad Botes' painting and sculptural practice has its roots in comic book drawing, which he has been exploring for over a decade. Together with Anton Kannemeyer he is co-founder and publisher of Bitterkomix, an iconoclastic comics magazine founded in 1992. The narrative content of his work is usually related to race, gender and violence and their disturbing relationship to power and hierarchy... This biting satire, frequently directed at South African society, politics and religion, is channelled into both his painting and printmaking, and his comics.
"My work often oscillates between different formal practices; I am equally at ease sculpting or painting. I can be equally drawn into the complicated narrative of the comic sequential narrative or the austereness of portraiture. Yet when it comes to the content of my work, I am fundamentally drawn towards allegory and it’s ability to seduce the viewer into a narrative. I am fascinated by the subversive quality an image can possess, where the formal aspects and the physical beauty of a work can draw the viewer in and seduces, and simultaneously being confronted by disturbing content and subject matter. This is why I often choose biblical themes as vehicles for political allegories, they have a familiarity that one can relate to, yet the hold the possibility to mimic reality and challenge beliefs and ideologies. Growing up during Apartheid South Africa, these themes also hold the potential for exploring the intricacies of guilt and complicity and their relationship to violence. I am constantly drawn to the subject of violence and it’s disturbing relationship between race and gender.
In 2004 Botes won the Absa l’Atelier award, and in 2009 he was festival artist at Aardklop in Potchefstroom and has since exhibited in several solo and group exhibitions both locally and abroad. They include: 2014: ; "Wounds Of The Past (solo), M Contemporay, Sydney; 2014 "Artists Engaged? Maybe" (group), Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, Portugal'; 2014, "A Sculptural Premise" (group). Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town (South Africa).
In 2011, "Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now", MOMA, NY; 2011, A 'Victims and Martyrs' at the Gothenburg Kunsthalle, Sweden; 2010, 'Peekaboo: Current South Africa' at the Tennis Palace Art Museum, Helsinki; 2010, the 17th Biennale of Sydney; ... for those who live in it: Pop culture, politics and strong voices at MU Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2010); 2008, the third Guangzhou Triennial, China; 2007, Africa Comics at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the 2006 Havana Biennale
Select Permanent Collections: Museum of Modern Art Print Collection, New York City
Support: Conrad Botes's residency is made possible with support from Yellowwoods Art.