This double-sided work features an incomplete rendering of South Africa’s old coat of arms (recto) and a ghostly study of a bird of prey (verso). First exhibited on Botha’s exhibition Apocalagnosia (2007), the recto image introduced audiences to his on-going method of partially depicting figurative subjects. Botha is well known for his appropriation, mimicry and distortion of religious and political iconography and art historical symbols. This extends to South Africa’s former coat of arms. Adopted in 1910 and replaced in 2000, this heraldic symbol featured a quartered shield flanked by a springbok and a gemsbok, with a lion at the crest, and a Latin motto below. Botha’s exhibition Speculum (2003) included two sculptural likenesses of this lapsed symbol, both made from white synthetic marble, as well as a number of works on paper that similarly portrayed its component elements as slowly diminishing. This lot radically progressed that dissolution: it only records aspects of the mantle, helm and crest of the coat of arms in delicate brushstrokes and pencil marks. The verso image was produced with coffee and water, and resembles Botha’s Watermark/Oilslick series (2003), spectral monotone paintings of various heraldic symbols.
Stevenson, Cape Town, Wim Botha: Apocalagnosia, 11 January to 10 February 2007.
Warren Siebrits, Johannesburg, The Rationalism of Nationalism, 2008.