“For many, Barend de Wet exists as myth” - Kathryn Smith
Barend de Wet was born in Boksburg in 1956. He passed away in a head-on collision car crash on 18 March this year.
Often described as a as a conceptual formalist, De Wet was also known for his serial puns. His oeuvre straddles nearly forty years and encompasses a range of diverse media from traditional sculptural media, performance and video to craft skills, which included crochet and embroidery.
De Wet held his first solo exhibition Toying with art at the Old Castle Brewery in Cape Town, in 1985. He was the winner of the Volkskas Atelier Award (now L'Atelier) in 1990. Throughout the 1990s his reputation as one of the country’s foremost young artists continued to grow. In 1996 he produced two of his most iconic works - the first, Art disguised as pasta involved De Wet preparing fresh pasta hung out in lines whilst dressed in chef’s whites. The performance, hosted by FIG Gallery, took in an empty storefront in Troyeville, Johannesburg. Later that year he ostensibly officially resigned from the art world with the announcement of the birth of his son. He proceeded to occupy his time with various pursuits, including being a model for Issey Miyake and David West, a beekeeper, a Masters World record holder in yo-yoing, a fire eater, a serial tattooist and an innate exhibitionist. He returned to showing in commercial galleries in 2010.
De Wet is represented in major South African public and private collections, including JAG. Amongst several exhibitions his work was included in the São Paulo Biennale (1994) and the Tate Modern in London.