Bester, Willie (1956-)

Artwork by Bester, Willie

Willie Bester is recognised as one of South Africa’s foremost ‘struggle’ artists. His installations of found objects, photographs and recycled materials are in major museums and collections worldwide including that of Jean Pigozzi.

Born in the Montagu section of the Cape Flats, Bester was required to move to a township with his family at the age of ten. To earn money, he was forced to leave school after the sixth grade. Employment was seasonal, and he was sent to a punishment camp because he could not find work for more than a year. Bester became an artist after 1986, when he took art classes at the Community Art Projects of Cape Town.

Willie Bester’s socially influenced art has an international following and his main objective is to record historical happenings in South Africa. An icon of South African art, Bester’s socially charged work speaks to both local and international audiences. His main concern is to record events in South Africa in visual terms.

By adopting an interesting approach, Bester treats the town as a historical find and uses all kinds of materials to make a collage of history.

Collections

•    South African National Gallery, Cape Town •    Johannesburg Art Gallery •    King George VI Gallery, Port Elizabeth •    University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg •    University of the Western Cape, Cape Town •    University of South Africa, Pretoria •    Provincial Libraries, Cape •    Durban Art Gallery, Durban •    Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg •    Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria •    Contemporary African Art Collection, Paris •    Smithsonian Inst. USA •    DE BEERS Collection, Johannesburg •    BOE Bank, Cape Town

Awards

•    1992 Prix De L’Aigle 4th Grand Prix International D’Arts Plastiques de la Ville de Nice, France •    2003 Honorary medal for promotion of Fine Arts: Suid Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns •    2004 Order of the Disa, Members Class, Government of South Africa •    2009 Johnny Walker artist award

Solo Exhibitions

•    1992 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg •    1993 South African Association of Art, Cape Town Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg •    1994 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg •    1998 Emporain, Dakar •    1999 Opere Recenti, Studio d’Arte Raffaelli, Trento, Italy •    Archivio Della Scuola Romana, Introdotto da Achille Bonito Oliva, Roma, Italy •    2000 Arte Assortite, Torino •    2001 Centre D’Art Contemporain, Brussels, Belgium •    Grahamstown Featured artist Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg •    2002 SASOL Museum, Stellenbosch •    2003 Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town •    2005 34 LONG, Cape Town •    2007 Montagu Museum •    2008 Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town •    2009 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, •    Sasol Art Gallery, Stellenbosch •    Investec Private Bank & University of Stellenbosch ‘Woordfees’      Artist

Willie Bester has exhibited in many group exhibitions in South Africa, Italy, Ireland, Japan, USA, Malaysia, France, India, UK, Senegal, Switzerland, Holland etc. Adapted from: http://www.barnardgallery.com/?m=4&s=2