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South African Artists


Willie Bester

besterBester’s subject matter usually deals with something that happened in the townships and which has been misreported or ignored by the newspapers. He goes to the place and people concerned and he picks up physical bits and pieces of their lives. Interaction between Bester's personal experiences and the forms, colours and textures of found materials produces images in which historical events of oppression, violence and terror is documented.

About his work, he says, “my whole interest now is with history. We sit with white history, we don’t know about black history or Bushman or Hottentot history. This information will come through and I want to see where it fits. To contribute to that history, to make it easier for the people that come after us to get some insight into what happened.”


Willie Bester was born on February 29th, 1956 in Mantagu, a Western Province of South Africa. He studied art part-time at the Community Art Project in Cape Town in the 1980's, while simultaneously working as an assistant to a dental technician (1976-1991). Bester works in mixed media and has shown widely in South Africa. In 1991-2 he exhibited in Great Britain at the Zabalaza Festival at the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford and in the following years his work was included in the Venice Biennale, in other exhibitions throughout Europe and Cuba. In 1992 he was awarded the Prix de L'Aigle at the 4th Grand Prix International D'arts Plastique de la Ville de Nice, France. He lives in Kuilsriver, just outside of Cape Town.

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