Born – 4 June 1985
Cape Town, South Africa
Died – 5 June 2011 (aged 26)
Occupation – Painter, entertainer
Years active – 2007–2011
Leon Botha (4 June 1985 – 5 June 2011) was a South African hip hop artist and DJ, as well as one of the world’s oldest survivors of progeria.
Botha was born in Cape Town, South Africa and lived there until his death. He was diagnosed with progeria around the age of 4 years. He had no formal training in art beyond high school courses at the Tygerberg Art Centre, but became a full-time painter after graduation, doing commissioned works.
In 2005, Botha successfully underwent heart bypass surgery to prevent a heart attack due to progeria-related atherosclerosis. In January 2007, Botha had his first solo art exhibition, entitled “Liquid Sword; I am HipHop”, revolving around hip-hop culture as a way of life. It took place at the Rust-en-Vrede (which translates to Peace and Quiet) gallery in Durbanville and was opened by Mr Fat of the South African Hip Hop group Brasse Vannie Kaap. His second solo exhibition opened in March 2009 and featured pieces of the artist’s life. Botha was asked if the title “Liquid Swords; Slices of Lemon” referred to the adage “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Botha said no, adding, “Lemons? I slice ’em and serve ’em back!”
In January 2010 he hosted the first exhibit of “Who Am I? …Transgressions”, a photo collaboration with Gordon Clark, at the João Ferreira Gallery in Cape Town. Botha said of the exhibition, “I am a spiritual being, the same as you, primarily. Then I’m a human being and this part of the human being is the body, which has a condition.”
Botha was also engaged in deejaying and turntablism under the name DJ Solarize. He was featured alongside Watkin Tudor Jones, aka Ninja, in the music video “Enter the Ninja” from Die Antwoord.
In November 2010, Botha suffered a stroke. Botha died from complications of progeria in Cape Town one day after his 26th birthday.
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