Chris Soal’s (b. 1994) practice is concerned with the materiality of objects that are so common that they have become invisible to us. Utilised daily by millions of people before being discarded, toothpicks and bottle-tops comprise his key materials: they are essentially manufactured to become debris. Simultaneously, Soal juxtaposes concrete with these materials to provide structural reflections on urban habitation.
Click here to view Chris’ catalogue for the Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2019.
Driven primarily by formal concerns, Soal’s sculptural practice seeks to highlight the histories embedded in found and pre-disposable material, including their socio-political, economic and geographic aspects. Often highly textured, the sculptures utilise repetition and scale. Through the repetition of the singular, their form is reimagined, rendering them initially unrecognisable. Toothpicks become warm, soft, expansive topographies of fur; bottle-tops become gilded reptilian armour, and concrete is transformed into pocked, ruptured, dystopian landscapes. Brought into dialogue and into new conjunctions, these different materialities – soft, hard, warm, cold – evoke wholly fresh reactions. Soal’s works are meditations not only on human relations – between individual and community – but also on the relationships between humankind and the natural environment which sustain and support our existence.
Soal graduated with a Bachelors in Fine Arts (Hons) in 2018 at the University of Witwatersrand. In the same year, he was awarded the Sculpture category and Overall Award at the PPC Imaginarium. He was also a finalist for the Sasol New Signatures in 2018, the Cassirer Welz Award in 2017, the Wits Young Artist Award in 2016 and 2017, The SA Taxi Art Award in 2016 and the Thami Mnyele Award in 2015. Soal was awarded a residency in 2018 by the South African Foundation for Contemporary Art. He is a fellow of the RAW Material Company’s (Dakar, Senegal) experimental residency, the RAW Academie, under the direction of Otobong Nkanga for Fall 2018.
He has exhibited in multiple group shows including Aeroplastics Contemporary in Brussels (2017), Wits Art Museum (2017), Stellenbosch University Museum (2018-2019), Museum of African Design (2016), Assemblage (2016), No End Contemporary (2017, 2018) and Guns & Rain (2018). He was a featured artist at GONG LAUT: The First Singaraja International Art Forum in Bali, Indonesia in 2018. Soal regularly exhibits at art fairs in Europe with Clifton Boulder Gallery, and has also exhibited at the Turbine Art Fair (2017, 2018) and the FNB Joburg Art Fair (2018). The artist’s works are held in numerous public and private collections both locally and internationally.