Bev Butkow started making art in her mid-40s and is now a full time artist grounded in the seriousness of her responsibility as an artist, maker, communicator and social actor. Deeply committed to social engagement and education, she co-founded a library in Limpopo and sits on the board of 11 schools. Born and living in Johannesburg with her husband and four children, her creative home is the Bag Factory Artist Studios, blocks away from where her grandfather sold eggs at the Fresh Produce Market in the 1960s.
Butkow uses processes of making like weaving and painting to knot and entangle, creating networks of connections that maintain a fragile equilibrium between holding together and unravelling. These entanglements give texture to the experiences that lie sedimented in her artist body, like tension experienced from taking on conflicting roles of career and mothering.
Investigating socially-encoded expectations of women, women’s labour and a deep exploration of materiality, Butkow creates abstracted woven, stitched, printed and mixed media works. A slow immersion in the in-out meditation of weaving embodies a rebellion from structured control and then being contained again. Enmeshed materials, creative-making processes and personal narrative come together to make meaning of issues around gendered labour and the experiences that become written into female bodies. The female body is foregrounded as a sedimentary site of knowledge, accumulated through the micro-events of the day-to-day. With their coded surfaces, Butkow’s objects are layered stories and a mapping of contemporary life.
Butkow is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts at Wits University on a scholarship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Governing Intimacies project.
Recent exhibitions include The Art of Lithography, Wits Art Museum (2019) and 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London (2019).
2015, m/other, Lizamore & Associates, Johannesburg
Select group exhibitions and fairs
2020 Dakar Biennele
2020 Investec Cape Town Art Fair
2019 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London
2019 Latitudes Art Fair, Johannesburg
2019 Conversations in Texture, Berman Contemporary, Johannesburg
2018 The Art of Lithography: a collaborative expression of LL Editions, Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg
2018 Sister Sister, National Arts Festival, Makhanda
2018 Imposed, Kalashnikovv Gallery, Johannesburg
2018 Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg
2017 Joburg Art Fair
2016 Contemporary showcase, Gains & Rain, Johannesburg
2016 Cape Town Art Fair
2016 Untitled 2.99 and 3.99, 99 Loop Gallery, Cape Town
2016 Young Collectors II, Fried Contemporary, Pretoria
2016 Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards Top 100, Johannesburg