Conrad Botes is an artist who grew up in South Africa during the Apartheid, and his work tackles and expresses many of sensitive issues as well as hints of personal experiences he witness there.
This fantastically talented artist was born in 1869 in the Western Cape, living through most of his childhood developing a soft underbelly of Afrikaanerdo and by extension, South African culture. We see the influence of his experiences and exposer to such a world powerfully expressed in his work, more suggestive to the viewers that allow themselves to experience his brilliance.
The work of Conrad Botes is basically built on an amusing yet emotionally provocative post-pop cartoon imagery. Conrad Botes, along with his partner Anton Kannemeyer, worked for the conception of Bitterkomix; a cutting edge, forceful and regularly published comic book project based on providing an uncensored almost abusive view of the African culture and policies, a critical statement on the African society in general – it was actually banned for a certain time in the homeland.
Conrad Botes plays around with the traditional techniques of printmaking in his work by rendering them beyond simple decoration. Botes remarkably uses the traditional methods of printmaking to transform comic art beyond mere entertainment. Conrad Botes exhibits through his work an image of the ideal artist, boasting courage, bravery and a voice loudest in the crowd through his bold style of creating art. Conrad Botes also works on paintings based on a similar theme but which are far more personal in nature. The comic series were originally created with an intention to address African individuals into opening their minds with regards to the African culture. Botes has worked with monoprints, silkscreens, lithographs, and other work on paper. He has been titled the ‘torchbearer of the Post-Pop movement in South Africa’.
In the words of Conrad Botes, “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 viewers reaction is more important than my own explanation”.