Semekazi

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Resource C: Semekazi – Willie Bester
Willie Bester
Born 1956 in Montagu, a small town 150 km from Cape Town, South Africa, Willie Bester is a South African artist famous for his installations made of found objects. Since early years, his talent could be easily observed: when other boys made basic wire cars, his cars were elaborated and decorated. He began to paint at the age of seven. However, his father was a Xhosa and his mother was classified as a Colored according to the apartheid system of the time. When he was 10 years old, his family was forcibly removed in accordance with the Group Areas Act. Bester soon had to leave school to help the family economically. In his late teens, Bester, like many township and rural youth in similar situations, joined the South African Defense Force. He spent a year there and another in a military camp for unemployed black youth. The experiences of raw and naked racism and the war were important influences to his future career. At the age of 30, Bester returned to the childhood interest of art. The Community Arts Project (CAP) in District Six gathered a community of socially committed artists he began to associate with. He used his art to express a political conscience and became active in the anti-apartheid movement. In the 80’s, Bester became gradually more successful and well known both nationally and internationally. He made his professional debut in 1991 and now lives and works in Kuilsrivier, a suburban area in Cape Town. Bester’s works are collages assembled from scraps and junk – such as shoes, bones, tins, newspaper clippings, and metal pieces from flea markets, townships, and scrap yards combined with the use of oil paints and photographs. The themes of his artworks stem from the political issues of the time they were created: During the Apartheid, forced removals and brutalization of society, today, crime, greed, poverty and corruption. "People have built up a resistance to anything that addresses the psyche of...
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