CV Willie Bester

Willie Bester is regarded as one of South Africa’s most important resistance artists. He incorporates recycled material into his paintings, assemblages and sculpture, usually commenting on political injustices and human rights issues of the day.

Born 1956, Montagu, Cape

Studies :


Community Arts Project, Cape Town

Full-time professional artist
No formal art training : Mostly self-taught

Solo Exhibitions:
1982 Forum, Cavendish Square, Cape Town
1991 Gallery International, Cape Town
1992 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
Millpark, Port Elizabeth
1993 South African Association of Art, Cape Town
Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
1994 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
1998 Emporain, Dakar
1999 Opere Recenti, Studio d’Arte Raffaelli, Trento, Italy Archivio Della Scuola Romana, Introdotto da Achille Bonito Oliva, Roma, Italy
2000 Arte Assortite, Torino
2001 Centre D’Art Contemporain, Brussels, Belgium
Grahamstown Featured artist
Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
2002 SASOL Museum, Stellenbosch
2003 Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town
2005 34 LONG, Cape Town
2007 Montagu Museum
2008 Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town
2009 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
Sasol Art Gallery, Stellenbosch
Investec Private Bank & US Wordfest Artist, 2009

Group Exhibitions:
1989 Baxter Gallery, Cape Town
1990 Gallery International, Cape Town
Institute for African Studies, University of Cape Town
Jacobs & Liknaitsky Gallery, Cape Town
1991 Operation Hunger Exhibition, Cape Town
Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch
Gallery International, Cape Town
Cape Town Triennial Exhibition, Touring Exhibition
– 1992 ZABALAZA FESTIVAL, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford. ( This exhibition traveled to London and other British centres and was subsequently shown in South Africa at the S.A. National Gallery, Cape Town)
1992 Primart Gallery, Cape Town
1993 Venice Biennale, INCROCI DEL SUD : An exhibition of works by 27 contemporary South African Artists
– 1994 INCROCI DEL SUD, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
1994 UN ART CONTEMPORIAN D’AFRIQUE DU SUD, Galerie De L’Esplanade, La Defence, Paris
UN ART CONTEMPORIAN D’AFRIQUE DU SUD, Galerie De Ballens, Ballens, Switzerland
HEIMAT PROJECT, Grahamstown Art Festival
Stallion Gallery, Kentucky, USA
5th Havana Biennale, Cuba
Art Salon at The Bay, Camps Bay, Cape
Ludwig Forum, Aachen, Germany
1995 DIALOGUES OF PEACE, Exhibition for the UN’s 50th Anniversary, Palaise Des Nations, Geneva
Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London
Africa ’95 Festival, London
Art Salon at The Bay, Camps Bay, Cape
De Kleur van Verandering Exhibition, The Hague, Netherlands
1996 Chicago Art Fair, Chicago, USA
Basel Art Fair, Basel, Switzerland
Simunye ( we are one ) exhibition, Adelson Gallery, New York
Tradition in Tradition, October Gallery, London
Contemporary Art from South Africa, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
Contemporary S.A. Art 85 – 95, South African National Gallery, Cape Town
South African Art to Atlanta, City Gallery East, Atlanta, USA
OTRO PAIS : ESCALAS AFRICANAS, Palau de la Virreina, Barcelona
The other journey ( Africa and the Diaspora), Kunsthalle, Krems, Austria
Seven Artists from South Africa, Boumani Gallery, San Francisco
1997 Galleria d’Art Moderna e Contemporanea di San Marino, San Marino
Lift Off, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
South Africa, Kohn Turner Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
Not Quite a Xmas Show, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
Art Salon, The Bay Hotel, Caps Bay
1998 Biennale de l’Art Contemporian, Dakar, Senegal
The Edge of Awareness, World Health Organization, Geneve, Switzerland, New York, Soa Paulo, New Delhi
Still our Land, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, joint with Zwelethu Mthethwa
Project Conflux, Tendances Mikado Gallery, Luxembourg
Project Conflux, Hotel de Ville, Dijon, France
Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town
1999 Art Salon, Bay Hotel, Cape Town
Rewind/Fast Forward, Van Reekum Museum of Modern Art, Appeldoorn, Netherlands
Claiming Art Reclaiming Space, National Museum of African Art, Washington DC.
Studio d’Arte Raffaelli, Trento, Italy
Artery, Joao Ferreira Fine Art, Cape Town
2000 Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
Project Conflux, Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town
2001 Barcelona Contemporary Cultural Center, Spain
Studio d’Arte Raffaelli, Trento, Italy
2002 Passport to South Africa, Centro Culturale “Trevi”, Bolzano, Italy
Sculpture Biennale, Spier Estate, Stellenbosch
National Art Gallery of Malaysia
King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth
2003 Suidoos Festival, Peninsula Technikon
‘Coexistence- Contemporary Cultural Production in South African’ Rose Art Museum, USA
2004 Dublin Exhibition
10 Years – Klein Karoo Arts Festival, Outshoorn, South Africa
Milk Can Project, Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town
Africa Remix – Düsseldorf, Museum Kunst Palast: 24 July – 7 November 2004
2005 London, Hayward Gallery: 10 February – 17 April 2005
Paris, Centre Pompidou: 15 May – 20 August 2005
Studio d’Arte Raffaelli, Trento, Italy
2006 Tokio, Mori Art Museum: June – September 2006
2007 Rocca di Castagnoli, Biennale Internazionalr dÁrt, Italy
2009 34 LONG FINE ART, Cape Town


1991 Merit Prize : Cape Triennial
1992 Prix De L’Aigle, 4th Grand Prix International D’Arts Plastiques de la Vlille de Nice, France
2003 Honorary medal for promotion of Fine Arts: Suid Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns
2004 Order of the Disa, Members Class, Government of South Africa
2009 Johnny Walker artist award

SASOL Limited, Johannesburg
South African National Gallery, Cape Town
Johannesburg Art Gallery
King George VI Gallery, Port Elizabeth
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
University of the Western Cape, Cape Town
University of South Africa, Pretoria
Department of National Education, Pretoria
Department of Foreign Affairs, Pretoria
Cape of Good Hope Bank, Cape Town
Rembrandt Van Rijn Collection, Stellenbosch
South African Breweries Collection, Johannesburg
South African Broadcasting Corporation ( SABC TV ), Cape Town
South African Broadcasting Corporation ( SABC TV ), Johannesburg
SANLAM, Cape Town
WOOLTRU, Cape Town
MTN Collection, Cape Town
ENGEN, Cape Town
Human Science Research Council, Cape Town
Cape Provincial Libraries, Cape
Foschini Ltd. Parow, Cape
GENCOR S.A., Johannesburg
Durban Art Gallery, Durban
Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg
Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria
Contemporary African Art Collection, Paris
Vodacom, Cape Town
Smithsonian Inst. USA
Oceana Fishing Group, Cape Town
NASPERS, Cape Town
Zonnebloem Art Collection, Stellenbosch
DE BEERS Collection, Johannesburg
BOE Bank, Cape Town

Willie’s work is also in numerous private collections in South Africa and abroad.

BERMAN, E., 1993. PAINTING IN SOUTH AFRICA. Page 363. Halfway House, Transvaal : Southern Book Publishers, ( ISBN 1-86812-345-6 )

BOGATZKE, H., BROCKMANN, R., LUDSZUWEIT, C. 2000. ONDAMBO – African Art Forum. Page 30 – 49, Page 174 – 177. Gamsberg Macmillan Publishers ( Pty ) Ltd.,
( ISNB 99916-0-211-9 )
FRANK, H., & D’AMATO., M., 1999. LIBERATED VOICES, Contemporary art from South Africa. Page 27. New York, London, Prestel, Munich : The Museum of African Art, ( ISBN 3-7913-2195-1 )

KONATE, Y., 2001. WILLIE BESTER. Bruxelles : Centre D’Art Contemporain

LEE, D., 2006. WILLIE BESTER, ART AS A WEAPON, Awareness Publishing Group ( Pty) LTD., ( ISBN 1-77008-178-X )

LITTLEFIELD KASFIR, S., 1999. CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN ART. Page. 159 -161. London : Thames & Hudson, ( ISBN 0-500-20328-8 )

MAGNIN, A., & SOULILLOU, J., 1996. CONTEMPORARY ART OF AFRICA. Pages 155 – 156, Page 158. New York & London : Thames a Hudson, ( ISBN 0-500-01713-1 )

PROUD, H., 2008. REVISIONS + EXPANDING THE NARRATIVE OF SOUTH AFRICAN ART. Stellenbosch Modern and Contemporary Art GAllery, ( SMAC), ( ISBN 1-874817-36-7 )

RANKIN, E., 1994. IMAGES OF METAL, Post-War Sculptures and Assemblages in South Africa. Pages 89 – 92. Johannesburg : Witwatersrand University Press, University of Witwatersrand Art Galleries,
( ISBN 1 86814 257 4 )

WILLIAMSON, S., & JAMAL, A., 1996. ART IN SOUTH AFRICA – THE FUTURE PRESENT. Pages 134 – 139. Claremont, South Africa : David Philip Publishers ( Pty ) Ltd., ( ISBN 0-86486-321-7 )


Artworks in the SAFFCA Collection