Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Leon Botha: artist

Some folk reading this blog may already know Leon Botha, who featured in Die Antwoord’s music video Enter the Ninja. I first encountered him on that social networking site we all love to hate but can’t seem to stay the hell away from, when I saw some of the enigmatic art he creates.

When Leon and I started chatting, we fast realised we had a lot in common with regard to some of our interests and, how’s this for a piece of synchronicity, we both had almost-identical tattoos completed independently within weeks of each other, at the same tattoo parlour. While I sport the Egyptian Neteru Set and Horus on my left and right wrists respectively, Leon has paid homage to Thoth.

Not long ago, Capetonians could also view another aspect of Leon’s art, when he collaborated with South African photographer Gordon Clark to present the Who Am I? exhibition, which challenged people to examine the perceptions, preconceptions and values.

I’d like to thank Leon Botha for stopping by my blog and share some of his thoughts.

Tell me more about your creative process and how you approach painting.
It depends… Generally I mostly live in my head. I am always drawing parallels between things in my head, working on some concept or interpreting some thought or feeling I get from anything such as music, books or some other experience, visually. (It’s not really as exciting as it sounds, it’s just how my mind works.) Usually, at some point I would deem any one of them ready, and I will attempt to “bring it” into this realm. As I’m doing this, of course it takes on a life of itself as it suddenly needs to abide to certain laws, and the difficulty for me is usually to shape it into a compromise. It can be very frustrating, but it is also why I don’t plan things or draw them out too thoroughly beforehand.

I can also simply desire to use a specific colour, subject or theme, and will just flow with it.
Technically, I use a lot of strong colours, as well as darkness, sharp lines and many layers as a sort of “dry brush” technique. So acrylics work fine for me because it’s so quick drying. I mostly use canvas, and generally don’t do any drawings beforehand.

So, when and where did you meet Gordon Clark?
He saw me in town and wanted to work with me, but somehow lost sight of me. Later he mentioned me to a friend who is a curator of a gallery in town. Ironically I was about to open my second solo exhibition there and she gave him my details and we set up a meeting.

What went into the creative process for the Who Am I? exhibition?
A lot of conversations… We generally had a similar idea as far as direction, in which we wanted to go, and we just pulled a whole lot of ideas from conversations regarding all aspects of life.

Sometimes, adapting the idea, and sometimes coming up with new ones while working on location. We were not restricted or limiting ourselves in any case. So the whole flow or creative process went very harmoniously.

What do you like about hip hop?
It is kind of like the melting pot of all music genres. It is not limited in scope, and in its essence, not really a genre at all.

It is as much a question as a definition.

Although my musical taste is certainly not limited to it, it has the certain “edge” of all other music that I enjoy.

As I say, it is not just a genre of music, but a way of life, a certain edge, attitude and way to view the world, which opened my perception to a lot of things, and influenced practically everything that I do.

And Die Antwoord? What have some of the after-effects of Enter the Ninja been?
Locally people seem to remember me from “that video”, and globally there has been a rise of interest to me/my work online. I have sold a few paintings overseas since then, as well.

Tell us a little about what you’re reading at the moment.
I’ve been reading a lot about Alchemy in the last years. The symbols and archetypes, and how the relativity of reality (our perception) can always be used in a way that “purifies” our thoughts, or enables us to grow as individuals (however one may see this). And not to see things as simply “good” or “bad”, “yin” or “yang”, but to merge them. To over-stand that our greatest blessing, is often inherited in what we perceived to be our greatest curse.

How do you approach time?
I try to grab it with both hands. So much, to the extend that I always go to bed way into the AM, and as the pendulum swings, I wake up way too late as well. (I will never be bored, and honestly don’t understand how one can claim to be that in this day and age).

All there ever is, or will be, is the present moment. Whenever I am able to really be aware of this, I am harmonious. And whenever I am not, I am only on my way to realise it again. There is nowhere else to go… The past was once the future, and the future will at once be the past. And while the transition happens in this moment, it is way too quickly to fully embrace or define anyway. This is why time is an illusion. I try to be less logical in my approach, and more receptive or acting on feeling, because things seem to be speeding up more and more to me, and I can’t keep up.

What, in your opinion, is the most important aspect of being human?
I think the ability to interpret our thoughts and experiences in such a way that it adds things like meaning, value, purpose, etc. and that we continue to evolve or grow in our interpretations of these. It enables us to always expand our universe, both inner and outer. We can always look forward to something exciting, as the ratio between our questions and answers continue to evolve (and in essence provide for itself) as we seek and find, into the beautiful mystery that is life. Yeah, life is beautiful when I stay in its mystery as oppose to it’s “know” –ledge.

Useful links:

* * * *

Nerine Dorman' s blogging news...

Book one and two of my Khepera series are now available IN PRINT, in South Africa. No excuses about not reading on screen. Support a starving author so she can create more mayhem as a full-time occupation.

* * * *

Call for submissions. I'm currently on the prowl for fiction across all genres for a Titanic-inspired line of novellas and novels. See the link below for further information.

* * * *

And, if you reckon you've got what it takes to write a good horror or dark fantasy short story, we'd like to hear about it for the SA HORRORFEST's Bloody Parchment short fiction competition. Details here:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this. I am just finding out about Leon now:( What an incredibly beautiful person. I feel pure true genuine energy radiating from his words <3 A total artist and inspiration! You will be missed Leon! But Ill see you in the ether if I am lucky!