Willie Bester

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First name: 
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
29 February 1956
Location of birth: 
Montagu, Western Cape

Willie Bester was born in Montagu, Western Cape, 1956. 

Bester’s mixed media works have frequently included passages of painting that have contained strongly naturalistic elements. Continuity is also evident in Bester’s sustained preoccupation with apartheid’s legacy, and the empathy and dignity with which he represents the dispossessed.

Curriculum Vitae


1986: Community Arts Project, Cape Town.


1982–2003: Eleven solo Exhibitions in South Africa (Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown and Stellenbosch).

1988–2001: Five solo exhibitions abroad (Dakar, Senegal; Trento, Rome and Turin, Italy; and Brussels, Belgium). 1989–2004: Participation in approximately thirty group exhibitions in South Africa (Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Johannesburg, Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth, Oudtshoorn).

1991–2005: Participation in approximately forty-six international Exhibitions in thirty-five cities and towns in the UK, Italy, The Netherlands, France, Switzerland, USA, Cuba, Germany, Canary Islands, Spain, Austria, Senegal, Brazil, India, Malaysia, and Ireland. This includes several biennales and high profile exhibitions.


Iziko SA National Gallery, Cape Town; Johannesburg Art Gallery; Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, Port Elizabeth; Durban Art Gallery; Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg; Pretoria Art Museum; University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg; University of the Western Cape, Bellville; University of South Africa Art Gallery, Pretoria; Department of National Education, Pretoria; Department of Foreign Affairs, Pretoria; South African Broadcasting Corporation, Cape Town and Johannesburg; Human Sciences Research Council, Cape Town; Contemporary African Art Collection, Paris; Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC.


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 the Republic of South Africa.

Last updated : 06-Mar-2018

This article was produced for South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011