Five Questions about Eddie Botha

Eddie gives us an interesting insight into his practice, thoughts and feelings about people and the world...

Who are you and how do you identify as an artist?

I’m a highly emotional, sensitive and multicultural-minded dreamer, comedian, amateur philologist, nature lover and activist that uses drawings to express myself. My search for cultural identity and sincere friendships leads me to examine interactions deeply. The best way I can express my extreme emotions and philosophies about life is through expressive drawings, using style street-gallery style impressions that consist of layering and complexity. I identify with artists who broke out of the norm, and express themselves irrespective of any current trends or fashions.

2) Can you describe your practice and works?

My works deal with the interactions between people and people, people and nature, people and technology, animals and animals. The media, urban grids, pathways, groupings and instructions, advertisements and signage form the contexts for these interactions. My style is predominantly illustrative. I draw from photos taken directly onto the mixed media base that could consist of a few layers. Some works are drawn in black and white on paper, focusing only on the figures and their interaction, often with some wording left as negative spacing. Color plays a role in adding to the drama, but also to group elements with similar traits together. Some of these elements are clearly connected and some are deliberately separated or isolated. There is a lot of symbolism in my work that is usually open for interpretation. I find that in real life people are always grouped to some extent, being in layers or bundles. Some are touching, and some are not. I try to emulate this. Some people like to be alone, and others love to interact.

3) Do you have a personal relationship to your work? How did your practice evolve over time?

Definitely, my work is very personal and is an extension of my emotions and philosophies. My work is now driven more by philosophy than emotions as it was earlier in my career. Emotion still tweaks what I do, however. Themes within my work are directly influenced by what is happening in the world and my surroundings. My work has moved from nature as the main source, to the urban environment over the past 5 years. I realize now that we care about nature only because we want it to be there for people. Ultimately, everything evolves around humans. My art  is always evolving and I make myself easily influenced by others by constantly looking at the latest art and absorbing as much of it as I can. I take what I like about certain art forms, and work it into my process or style whilst still keeping my individual style.

4) What is, for you, the most important aspect of your work?

I want people to smile and find my work positive, but also sense the underlying seriousness and deeper emotions captured within. The notion of Interaction is currently the main theme and it could be so for a long time to come. I deliberately make my intentions quite clear in my artworks, often with clear messages. It’s open for interpretation, but I would rather leave the discovery in the detail and technique, than the message that I want to give people. I therefore use speech bubbles, and storylines. My works are stories with a narrative, with the title as a hint. An artwork must be a journey of discovery that entertains. I want people to discover new things every time they look at a work, and find the comedy in it as they relate to it. My definition of comedy is ‘when you take a serious matter and portray it in an absurd or overstated manner’. That is often what I do with my work. Nothing gives me more pleasure that when people point at my work giggling. I am naturally a quirky person so it comes quite naturally for me.
5) Why is your work relevant today? 

Yes, it deals with current issues whether personal, social or political. I touch on issues such as sexism, racial discrimination, classism, consumerism, capitalism, religion, greed, the misleading media, terrorism, xenophobia and so forth. I want people to be subtly aware of these things as we often get so used to things, even when they aren’t right. I believe my well traveled multicultural background helps me to look at things from a different perspective. I always try to keep my practice versatile and timeless by not following any particular trends other that doing what I feel like. Ultimately, I believe that human interaction will always be relevant in our lives, as will nature and technology.
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