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Conrad Botes was born into a country that was separated along harsh racial lines; white and black, the haves and the haves not. In 1969, in the Western Cape where Conrad was born, apartheid was the de facto political stance of Afrikaaners. He grew up in a Department of Water Affairs prefab house near the Theewaters Dam, and his father was a teacher at the local school. Conrad’s childhood was populated by a colorful mix of locals from all classes and stations in society. He was able to see the world for what it was and developed ideas for how it should be. Unfortunately, those ideas would not become a reality until apartheid formally came to an end in 1994 after nearly 50 years of oppression.
Conrad’s work in comics, illustration and printmaking “targets the soft underbelly of Afrikaanerdom” and makes a statement about South African culture in general. You can see the diverse set of characters from Conrad’s youth in his work, illustrating both the positives and negatives of society. The duality of Conrad’s existence is one of the things that makes his work so compelling. He is a white man living in a country where his peers once held all the keys, but at the same time it is clear that he can see the bigger picture and truly wants to affect change. In Conrad’s case he decided to use his work, his art, to make a difference.
To read a bit more about Conrad Botes and to view more of his work check out his profile on ArtPrintSA.