Between Worlds

Between Worlds


Badenhorst’s exhibition between worlds makes up the practical component of his Masters study, LEAVING HOME: The Illustrated Fantasy as Crisis Heterotopia. Badenhorst’s study is concerned with how illustrated worlds and narratives may function as ritual space and process, potentially facilitating rites of passage for readers. For his study, Badenhorst created a wordless illustrated book that contains four stories. The exhibition displays each artwork created for the book as a framed digital print (limited editions) so that viewers are able to ‘read’ the stories by walking through the space. The exhibition is an extension of the narrative and the work is thus, displayed in a (linear) way so that viewers may make sense of the narrative presented. Each of the four stories functions as a ‘chapter’ in the exhibitions.

Badenhorst considers the process of worldbuilding as equally important as the final product. Thus, process work made prior to the creation of the picture book (of the same name), is displayed in-between the chapters of the exhibition. Although Badenhorst’s study is concerned with the book, as facilitator of rites of passage; during Covid19 restrictions (where it would be difficult to have a crowd of people page through several bound books), the gallery space allowed Badenhorst to translate the existing book into an exhibition. This way more viewers could experience the linear narrative contained within the book at the same time.

Badenhorst is interested in the genre of fantasy, not as a form of escapism, but a vehicle in which to critically reflect and make sense of real life experiences. The first story in the book/exhibition speaks to themes such as coming of age and religious trauma. The second story is concerned with achieving community that is not necessarily inherited through culture. The third story is concerned with queer experience, while the final story considers themes such as isolation, grief and reconciling conflicting experiences and belief.

The exhibition opened at Gallery 2 in Johannesburg on the 13th of March 2021, and was up for the following month.


Neil Badenhorst (b. 1995) is an illustrator and multidisciplinary artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Badenhorst completed his Undergraduate and Honours degrees in Visual Communication (majoring in Illustration) at the Open Window in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Badenhorst completed his Masters in Design (Illustration) in 2021 at the University of Johannesburg. His study was concerned with ritual spaces and process in illustrated fantasy books. He intends to begin studying towards a PhD in Visual Arts in 2023. Badenhorst hopes to become a ‘jack of all trades, master of some’. Although his formal education is in Design and Illustration, Badenhorst has pursued a career as an artist since his early days at university.

Badenhorst has showed in a number of group shows with galleries and art fairs across South Africa and his Masters solo opened at Gallery 2 in Johannesburg, in March 2021. As an artist, Badenhorst’s practice extends into painting, collage, digital media and more recently installation art. Badenhorst’s practice is largely concerned with themes such as liminality, queer experience, worldbuilding and narrative. Badenhorst’s creative process relies heavily on intuition, and his work attempts to map out the eternally expanding internal landscape and visions of the fantastic, in order to better comprehend ‘real’ experiences and surroundings. In addition to working as an artist, Badenhorst has also worked as a graphic designer and commercial illustrator and still freelances. Badenhorst also works as a visual researcher and currently lectures at the University of Johannesburg and Inscape Education Group on a part-time basis.


August 25, 2022