Willem Boshoff (b. 1951) is based in Johannesburg. His father, Martiens, was a trained carpenter and the artist grew up with a love for wood and respect for technical expertise. Boshoff trained as a teacher at the Johannesburg College of Art before pursuing a diploma in Fine Art in 1980. He received a Masters from Technikon Witwatersrand in 1984, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Johannesburg in 2008.
Boshoff is known primarily for his conceptual installations. He is one of South Africa’s foremost contemporary artists, and regularly exhibits nationally and internationally. His characteristic passion for words and knowledge structures is elegantly displayed in this remarkable etching. The diptych is titled Political Candy Floss (left and right) and is sold as a single unit.
Printed by Tim Foulds at the Artist Proof Studio.
Willem Boshoff was born in Vereeniging, South Africa, in 1951. His father was a carpenter who worked in and around Vanderbijlpark, very close to where the Sharpeville massacre occurred in 1960. Boshoff studied and taught at the Johannesburg College of Art and the Witwatersrand Technikon, and he lives in Johannesburg. He is both a wordsmith and a maker of images and objects.
A self-taught dendrologist, he ranges widely across the fields of botany, literature, and geography. He has made concrete poetry; he reads and makes dictionaries; he is a sculptor and makes installations; he is an inveterate seeker after words, names, plants, and objects both natural and synthetic, from which he constructs his sculptures and images. ‘One of his main aims,’ says the writer Ivan Vladislavic in the monograph TAXI-11 Willem Boshoff, ‘is recovery – of lost words, sated senses, family unities, broken maps.’ Boshoff’s encyclopaedic impulse is evidenced in his collecting and making practices: everything is material for making art, every detail in the natural world is imbued with meaning and can be appropriated or spoken of with fervour. Many of Boshoff’s works are incomplete, evolving, or in process as long as the world yields some form of knowledge that he can incorporate into what he is making.
Boshoff’s work has been shown at many major museums in the world and he has been included in biennales in Johannesburg, Havana, Venice, and Saõ Paolo. His solo shows and permanent installations include Blind Alphabet; Nonplussed; dictionaries; cryptic writings such as Bangboek; the ever-growing Garden of Words; and his massive sculptures in stone. He exhibited at the Nirox Foundation outside of Johannesburg, and Circa Gallery.
Willem Boshoff was born in 1951 in Vanderbijlpark and attended the University of Johannesburg where he studied teaching, printmaking and later received his masters in Fine Arts, majoring in sculpture in 1984.
Boshoff has received numerous awards over the years, most notably: the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship for 2011 from the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC; an Honorary Doctorate from University of Johannesburg in 2008 and the FNB Vita Award for Art in Johannesburg in 1997.
Represented in various public and private collections in South Africa and abroad, Willem Boshoff’s work has been shown extensively in numerous museum exhibitions, art fairs and biennales, amongst others: the São Paulo Biennale; Venice Biennale; Havana Biennale; the Museum for African Art at the Smithsonian, Washington; Museo Nacional, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, Belgium and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA.
In 2012, SMAC Gallery presented an exhibition of Willem Boshoff entitled Text Works alongside acclaimed British land artist Richard Long. This was followed in 2013 by the performative exhibition, Big Druid in his Cubicle, where the artist physically inhabited and occupied SMAC Gallery in Cape Town for five weeks and engaged with the public as well as exploring his surroundings on numerous “Druid walks”, in and around the city. SMAC also presented a Big Druid in his Cubicle exhibition at the KKNK National Art Festival in 2014. In 2015 Willem Boshoff’s work was part of 50/50, curated by Rory Bester, at the New Church Museum, Cape Town, South Africa and notably, What Remains is Tomorrow, curated by Christopher Till and Jeremy Rose, for the Pavilion of South Africa at the 56th Venice Biennale.
Boshoff’s most recent solo show Reap the Whirlwind was presented at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town at the end of 2015.