Bev Butkow

South Africa

Coming from a place of supreme organisation and structure – as a trained accountant – Bev Butkow examines structures and how to unravel them. Moving between form and disintegration, her practice is marked by a deep exploration of materiality as a way of embedding social issues within making practices. Butkow’s work asks questions about imposed boundaries and power systems, especially in relation to gender, by changing our reading of materials.


View Butkow’s catalogue for Joburg Art Fair 2018 here.


She cuts up and defaces existing paintings – sometimes forcefully – letting her view materials in a fresh light before ordering, arranging or weaving them together again. Chance, play and meditation play a role in transforming materials into new tactile, textured compositions.


For Butkow, weaving creates space to think. An immersion in the slow, in-out meditation of weaving embodies both expansion and contraction; simultaneously breaking out of structured control and then being contained by it again.  Butkow’s organic working process harnesses a feminine sensibility, a search for a women’s way of making meaning, and a search for the language and materials that could legitimately express femininity’s lost place.


Butkow started making art in her mid-40s and is now a full time artist. As part of her re-education, she is working towards a Masters of Fine Art at Wits University, having completed her Honours in Art History with distinction in 2017. Butkow had a solo exhibition in 2015, winning a Merit Award in the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award the same year. Since then she has exhibited in numerous group shows and fairs, including the Cape Town Art Fair and National Arts Festival. Her work is housed in local and international collections.

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 peddled eggs at the Fresh Produce Market in the 1950s and 60s.

Exhibitions, Awards & Collections

Solo exhibition:

2015, m/other, Lizamore & Associates, Johannesburg

Selected group exhibitions:

2019 Conversations in Texture Berman Contemporary, Johannesburg

2019 Tête-à-tête, ABSA Gallery, Johannesburg

2018 The Art of Lithography: a collaborative expression of LL Editions, Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg (forthcoming)

2018 Joburg Art Fair

2018 Sister Sister, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown

2018 Imposed, Kalashnikovv Gallery, Johannesburg

2018 Remembering 60 000 forced goodbyes, Sanlam Art Lounge, Johannesburg

2018 Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg

2017 Joburg Art Fair

2017 35 Years : Trailblazers, Lizamore & Associates, Johannesburg

2017 Common Ground, Trent Gallery, Pretoria

2017 Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg

2016 Cape Town Art Fair, Lizamore & Associates

2016 Art State, Galerie NOKO, Port Elizabeth

2016 Untitled 2.99 and 3.99, 99 Loop Gallery, Cape Town

2016 Young Collectors II, Fried Contemporary, Pretoria

2016 District Six 50th Commemorative Print Exchange Portfolio Project, District Six Museum, Cape Town

2016 Post-Its, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg

2016 Contemporary showcase, Gains & Rain, Johannesburg

2016 Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards Top 100 exhibition, Kempton Park, Johannesburg

2016 Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg

2015 and before

Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards Top 100 exhibition, Kempton Park, Johannesburg

Les is More, Gallery Momo, Johannesburg

Thinking in a Space, Nirox Projects, Maboneng, Johannesburg

Fresh Produce, Turbine Art Fair 2015, Johannesburg

Awards & grants:

2019 Recipient of Andrew W Mellon: Governing Intimacies (GI) Project scholarship

2019 Writing retreat by the peer-reviewed journal “African Studies”

2018 Included as one of Africa’s top 20 new and exciting talent by Joburg Art Fair 2018 (#FNBJAF20)

2017 Post-Graduate Merit Award, University of Witwatersrand

2016 Johannesburg Council Chamber Totem Public Art Competition

2016 Post-Its, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg

2015 Fresh Produce, Turbine Art Fair 2015, Johannesburg

2015 Top 5 finalist, SA Taxi Foundation Art Award

2015 Winner Assemblage Postcard Competition

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