Willem Boshoff

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Willem Boshoff
CHLDR O S Ben 1 61.jpg
NationalitySouth African
Known forVisual art Conceptual art Sculpture

Willem Boshoff (born 1951, Johannesburg, South Africa) is one of South Africa's foremost contemporary artists and regularly exhibits nationally and internationally.[1]

Boshoff spent his childhood in Vanderbijlpark, which is a town located next to the Vaal River, located approximately seventy five kilometers south of Johannesburg. His father, Martiens, was a carpenter which allowed him to develop a love for working with wood. This had a large influence on his current technical expertise. Boshoff is known primarily for his conceptual installations.

Boshoff's academic career stretches beyond a span of twenty years. He trained as a teacher at the Johannesburg College of Art before pursuing a diploma in fine art, with an emphasis on printmaking, in 1980. He received a master's degree in sculpture from Technikon Witwatersrand in 1984. He made study trips to Austria and Germany in 1982, as well as to England, Wales, and Scotland in 1993.[1] He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Johannesburg in 2008.[2]

Boshoff, one of South Africa's most established artists, has joined the Department of Fine Arts as a mentor for postgraduate students. Prof. Boshoff, whose work has been shown extensively in South Africa and internationally, will serve as mentor and resident artist in the department. Prof. Boshoff made his mark at the university in 2011 when his Thinking Stone sculpture, one of sixteen artworks commissioned by the Sculpture-on-Campus project, was installed near the Main Building. The "Black Belfast " granite stone, situated next to the H vd Merwe Scholtz Hall, weighs approximately 20 ton and, to date,is the largest of the artworks funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust fund. Mr Ben Botma, Head of the Department of Fine Arts, says Prof. Boshoff, who is based in Gauteng, will work on the Bloemfontein Campus for certain months of the year. "As an artist he is extremely productive and has an impressive international exhibition programme. As a result he has a good overview of what happens in the most important museums and contemporary galleries. This information and insight can be shared with students with great success." Mr Botma says although the mentorship is aimed at postgraduate students, Prof. Boshoff's presence and obsessive work habits will also motivate and inspire undergraduate students. "Willem is very popular as external examiner and moderator at other universities and he has a good perspective of what happens at the major universities".[3]

His installations are frequently based on the exploration of language and are created in materials ranging from stone to paper to sand.[2]


Boshoff's work was first exhibited in 1981, and in 1985 as part of a travelling group exhibition of South African Art in South Africa and to West Germany, titled 'Tributaries'.[4] His work has subsequently been exhibited in numerous worldwide exhibitions, such as: the 1st Johannesburg Biennial (Africus), 1995;[5] the 23rd International Biennial of São Paulo, 1996;[6] the 2nd Johannesburg Biennial, 1997;[7] 'Memory, Intimacy Traces' (Intimas Memorias Marcas) curated by Fernando Alvim at Pavilhãoa Branco, at the Museu da Cidade in Lisbon, Portugal and touring to the Museum of Modern Art, Antwerp, Belgium in 2000. In 1999, his installation 'Garden of words II' was exhibited at the 8th Floralies Internationales, Nantes, France and his work was also exhibited as part of a group show titled: 'Conceptualist Art: Points of Origin 1950s–1980s' at the Queens Museum of Art, New York and travelled to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis in 2000. In the same year his work was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, Antwerp, Belgium; The White Box Gallery, Chelsea, New York; Havana Biennial, Cuba; Bildmuseet, Umea, Sweden; Via Cesare Correnti, Milan, Italy; Museo Nacional, Centro deArte, Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (as part of the exhibition: Visiones del Sur: No es sólo lo que ves: pervirtiendo minimalismo, curated by Gerardo Mosquera).

In 2001 his work was shown at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art (Den Frie Udstillingsbygning), Copenhagen, Denmark; Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, Germany (as part of the group exhibition: 'Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa') travelling to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA. His work was also seen at the 49th Venice Biennial as part of the exhibition Authentic/Ex-centric: Africa In and Out Africa curated by Olu Oguibe and Okwui Enwezor and at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam as part of the curated exhibition: 'Unpacking Europe' by Salah Hassan and Iftikhar Dadi (13 December 2001 – 24 February 2002). In 2002, his installation: 'Garden of Words II' was exhibited at Vandskel Kunstcentret, Silkeborg Bad, Denmark; at Camouflage, Observatorio, Brussels and in Switzerland in 2003. In 2003 his work was also exhibited at Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Boston, USA; Galerie Asbæk, Copenhagen, Denmark as part of the exhibition: 'Sted/Place' and Musee departemental de la Haute-Saône Albert Demard, Champlitte, France.

2005 saw his work exhibited at the 'Textures' exhibition at the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA and in 2008 his work formed part of an exhibition curated by Stichting Sonsbeek in Arnhem, Netherlands.

In 2009 he presented a performance at Art Basel, titled: 'The Big Druid in his Cubicle'; in 2010 his work was exhibited at Kunsthalle, Göppingen, Germany in a group exhibition 'Happy End' curated by Annett Reckert; Daimler Contemporary Gallery, Berlin as part of 'Ampersand' curated by Christian Ganzenberg and an installation at Hyde Park Shopping Centre, London, UK.

Online reviews/ Listings[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sue Williamson (August 2001). "Willem Boshoff". ARTTHROB. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b Ecotopian States. "Willem Boshoff". Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  3. ^ UFS. "Prof. Willem Boshoff joins Department of Fine Arts". Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Review: 'A feature on an artist in the public eye' on Artthrob by Sue Williamson, Archive: Issue No. 48, August 2001. See: Curriculum Vitae, selected exhibitions". Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  5. ^ Ruth Rosengarten (June–August 1995). "Inside Out: The Johannesburg Biennale". Frieze Magazine. No. 23. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  6. ^ "News: "The Sao Paulo Biennale opens October 2" on Artthrob". Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  7. ^ Perryer, Sophie (2004). Book: '10 Years 100 Artists: Art in a Democratic South Africa' pg 435, Biennials/ Festivals/ Mega-Exhibitions. ISBN 9781868729876. Retrieved 18 July 2012.