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Willem Boshoff

Open Air
1 Jun–30 Jun 2018

Throughout June 2018, YSP will host a month-long research residency with Willem Boshoff, one of South Africa’s leading artists.

Boshoff works in various mediums including sculpture, performance and installation and is fascinated by words. Language is central to his practice, which has been described as an encyclopaedic obsession, and has led to the studying and compiling of his own dictionaries. The first, in 1977, was A Dictionary of Colour and since then have included A Dictionary of Perplexing English, A Dictionary of Beasts and Demons and the Dictionary of Winds. Boshoff is a self-taught dendrologist and studies and catalogues the names of plants and trees wherever he visits. Other interests and influences on his work are science, mathematics, philosophy and astronomy.

Big Druid is a significant series of sculptural and installation works resulting from Boshoff’s research and sense of correlation with druidry. A strand of this project resulted in a series of performance works in which Boshoff inhabits a gallery space where visitors can observe him writing, sleeping, meditating and creating artworks. Around the time he was being treated for lead poisoning, Boshoff began reading about druids.

Other important works include Garden of Words, which is based around the thousands of plant species documented by the artist since 1981. In one work, over 15,000 species of plants were printed onto cloth and cut to make memorial flowers planted in a lawn to form the installation. The Blind Alphabet uses sculptural forms and Braille texts to subvert the traditional gallery experience.

Boshoff is former head of the Department of Fine Art of University of Johannesburg and alongside being a practicing artist, he continues working with many academic institutions. His qualifications include an honorary doctorate from the University of Johannesburg.