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Alta Botha

THE LIFE AND WORK OF Alta Botha

Alta Botha (b. 1955) is a Cape Town-based independent artist who exhibits locally and internationally. She holds a B degree in Visual Arts (awarded Visual Arts Prize, Unisa, 2005) and an MA in Fine Arts (with distinction, Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, 2014).

Since 2012 Botha explores the possibilities of contemporary drawing employing process driven methodologies. Using paper and found and activated charcoal as primary media, she works towards transforming the materiality of substances and surfaces through reductive and ‘abusive’ procedures.  Dematerialising actions of erosion and perforation – the scraping and sanding of paper, and the burning of wood to charcoal – are counterbalanced by processes of retrieval and reconstruction, like the sewing together and dressing of torn surfaces. Her acts of reparation recall an earlier career in nursing – her hand-stitching, as a mark and a conveyor of meaning, is linked to care.

Alta Botha considers drawing as a complex filtering between inner and outer processes – between deep structures of thought and their coming into being as surface structure. The incremental unfolding between processes of conscious and unconscious awareness is central to the transformations she works towards.

Solo exhibitions include between (2020), fore/after (2017), fragile equilibriums (2014), Odd objects (2008) and Angle of repose (2006). The works featured on the Paper exhibition comprises a selection of works from Botha’s solo exhibition titled between, 2020/2021.

Between the known, the not yet known and the almost forgotten, exists a poetic tension. As artist I work in and between these ever-shifting domains of tension as it relates to place – as the titles of the works suggest.

Working with the primary media of paper and charcoal, I erode the materiality of the paper, perforating the surface in anticipation of a mark and image to emerge. The tactile materiality of the surface incrementally reveals itself, offering nuances in texture, tonality, and depth of both paper and charcoal.

The intimate process of interaction with these materials, becomes one of uncertainty and tension. Through processes of separation, fragmentation, and layering, I begin to reimagine the relationship between place and memory in all its porousness and fragility.

An experience of the tactility of the materials and surfaces of these works are to a certain extent compromised in an online viewing of the work. A sense of the elements of three-dimensionality, textural qualities and layering at best reveals itself in a physical viewing of the work.

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