Andries Botha : creativity in a context of change.
Leigh, Valerie T. L.
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In this text I consider Andries Botha's work over the period 1977 to 2007. I particularly look at Botha's creative response to the period of change in which he has worked and at his own considerations of works of art as acts of creative citizenship and private creativity. The text is based largely on interviews with Botha wherein he discusses his intentions and gives insight into the character of his creative imagination. In light of the interviews I write on individual works in detail, giving attention, to a certain extent, to chronology. During the late 1970s Botha was particularly concerned with establishing a sculptural language that would be expressive of his experience as a South African creative artist in the time of turbulence in the country and of paradox in his own circumstances as liberal thinker and inheritor of a conservative Afrikaner Nationalist background. Botha's creative output has been considerable. He commenced his career in a period of waning modernity and an increasing presence of Postmodernist culture. In his works of the 1980s he makes use of conceptual means – installation, assemblage, multiples, technology and unusual materials to express, through myth and allegory, his understanding of aspects of the human condition. The many associations, aesthetic, historical and political, regarding land, in a South African and in an international context, also became his concern. He sought to look at the affects on selfhood in the wake of apartheid, considering particularly the Afrikaner male and indigenous women, with especial reference to KwaZulu- Natal. He has been particularly interested in the effects of the abuse of power in a local and in an international sphere and in the situation of subaltern peoples in the aftermath of domination. When Botha commenced studies at the (then) University of Natal, the prevailing philosophical attitude was Humanism, and his attitude to social responsibility is often markedly humanistic. His own thinking regarding his creative work coincided in many aspects with Marxist aesthetic. A development of Postmodernist thinking occurred in South Africa with the writing of Die Sestigers, who had had large contact with French philosophical writing of mid-twentieth century. Botha's challenge, as was that of Die Sestigers, was to take cognisance of international thinking and at the same time to work creatively within an experience of the South African locale. Botha's reading of Merleau-Pontys' writings on phenomenology influenced him to respond to the immediacy of experience and record that response in his work. Largeness is a distinguishing feature of his art which I discuss in connection with the character of the sublime, as perceived by Burke. The character of duende, as seen by Lorca, is also distinctive to Botha's art and is used by him creatively to effect catharsis. He shows responsibility in his creative citizenship and in his private creativity in understanding and meeting the changes of the time.