"I am sometimes tempted to go to the seaside and to paint beautiful things from nature. But I do not do it because my art has to be taken as a nasty tasting medicine for awakening consciences." - Willie Bester
Willie Bester is cited internationally as one of South Africa's most important resistance artists. He incorporates recycled material into his paintings, assemblages and sculpture, usually commenting on political injustices and human rights issues of the day.
For Willie Bester, the personal is political, and being apolitical in South Africa is a dangerous luxury that should be avoided. Utilizing a cross-section of artist mediums such as mixed media, sculpture, painting and installation art, his art forms much of his protest. His anti-Apartheid activism is evident in his work, as is his more contemporary focus on decolonising the South African collective mind.
Willie Bester is no stranger to political commentary – it has been an intrinsically personal aspect of his very existence, dating back to his childhood where he was classified as ‘other coloured’ by the Apartheid state. Thus began an illustrious career where he has made the personal political. Bester uses a cross-section of artist mediums such as mixed media, sculpture, painting and installation art to convey his protest and resistance, with much of his recent work considering the dangers of colonisation’s permanent legacy. Our humanity is shared, and thus to consider oneself apolitical is inherently perilous to society. Bester is one of South Africa’s most crucial resistance artists with his work exhibited and studied worldwide. His art is featured in collections around South Africa as well as abroad in notorious collections such as the De Beers Collection, the Contemporary African Art Collection in Geneva and the David Bowie Collection. Bester’s art speaks to our history, our present and begs the question of our future.