Leon Botha

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Leon Botha
Leon Botha on 30 October 2009
Born(1985-06-04)4 June 1985
Cape Town, South Africa
Died5 June 2011(2011-06-05) (aged 26)
Cape Town
  • Painter
  • entertainer
Years active2007–2011

Leon Botha (4 June 1985 – 5 June 2011) was a South African painter and disk jockey. He was known for his close association with the hip hop group Die Antwoord, as well as for being one of the world's longest-lived persons with progeria.[1]


Botha was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and lived there until his death. He was diagnosed with progeria around the age of 4 years. He had no formal training in art beyond high school courses at the Tygerberg Art Centre, but became a full-time painter after graduation, doing commissioned works.[citation needed]

In 2005, Botha successfully underwent heart bypass surgery to prevent a heart attack due to progeria-related atherosclerosis.[2]

In January 2007, Botha had his first solo art exhibition, entitled "Liquid Sword; I am HipHop", revolving around hip-hop culture as a way of life.[3] It took place at the Rust-en-Vrede (which translates to Rest and Peace) gallery in Durbanville and was opened by Mr Fat of the South African hip hop group Brasse Vannie Kaap.[4] His second solo exhibition opened in March 2009 and featured pieces of the artist's life. Botha was asked if the title "Liquid Swords; Slices of Lemon" referred to the adage "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Botha said no, adding, "Lemons? I slice 'em and serve 'em back!"[5]

In January 2010, he hosted the first exhibit of Who Am I? Transgressions, a photo collaboration with Gordon Clark, at the João Ferreira Gallery in Cape Town.[6] Botha said of the exhibition, "I am a spiritual being, the same as you, primarily. Then I'm a human being and this part of the human being is the body, which has a condition."[7]

Botha was also engaged in deejaying and turntablism under the name DJ Solarize.[8] He was featured alongside Watkin Tudor Jones, aka Ninja, in the music video "Enter the Ninja" from Die Antwoord.[9]

In November 2010, Botha suffered a stroke.[10] Botha died from complications of progeria in Cape Town one day after his 26th birthday.[11]

Botha was the inspiration for the one-act opera Solarize, by Marcin Stańczyk, libretto by Andrzej Szpindler, which debuted in Warsaw in April 2014 at Teatr Wielki, the Polish National Opera.[12]


  1. ^ Staff report (14 January 2010). Transcend and Transgress, Mail & Guardian
  2. ^ Sampson, Lin (17 October 2009). "Coming of Age: Cover Story", The Times
  3. ^ van Zyl, Peter (11 January 2007). Art from my hip-hop heart. YOU
  4. ^
  5. ^ Peters, Melanie (11 April 2009). Progeria victim finds life in art. Independent on Saturday, South Africa
  6. ^ Clifford-Holmes, Lauren (15 January 2010). The Fibre of Reality, Mail & Guardian
  7. ^ Clark, Gordon, and Leon Botha (2010). "Who Am I? ...Transgressions" via YouTube
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ *Morris, Christopher (7 June 2011). DJ Leon Botha dies at 26. Variety
  11. ^
  12. ^ "404". {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)

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