Conrad Botes

Conrad Botes was born in 1969 in Ladismith, Western Cape, and is now currently living in Cape Town.

His biting satire, frequently directed at South African society, politics and religion, is channelled into both his painting and printmaking art practice, and his satirical comics, published – alongside his frequent collaborator Anton Kannemyer – in the Bitterkomix series. The comics, a rude almost abusive, cutting publication which the two started as students to jolt the establishment and enliven the lives of their gleeful peers, continues to be published regularly.

Botes elaborates: “With the comics, we’re dealing very specifically with a South African audience who know what we’re referring to. Originally we wrote them in Afrikaans, so many of the references are to things in Afrikaans culture. The paintings I make are much more personal. I can explain them if I have to – but I’d much rather not. It is difficult to explain something that you are meant to feel. People can formulate their own ideas about the work, the viewer’s reaction is more important than my own explanation.”

Botes uses Post-Pop’s preference for ‘sugary infantilism’ to reflect on contemporary society. In such a society, religion is irreverent, violence is desirable, sadism institutionalised, and the individual triumphant in his existential crisis. Botes’ work achieves an interesting fusion of the pastoral with contemporary realities and aesthetics: flowers are often wounds in his works and birds are harbingers of doom. Detached hands refer to creativity.

Conrad Botes

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