A Closer Look at the 'Off the Wall' Sculptures of FNB Joburg Art Fair

By BLANC Modern Africa


At FNB Joburg Art Fair, held last weekend at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, an ambitious all sculpture display by Everard Read and CIRCA Galleries near the entry of the fair beckoned visitors to enter the pop-up sculpture park. An early detour before the other sights in the convention space easily put 3-D works on the mind.

Deeper within the fair, an assortment of art protruding from walls formed their own informal collective of expressive sculptural works, ranging in appearance from oversize and imposing to delicate and kitsch. Haroon Gunn-Salie, this year's FNB Joburg Prize winner, showed a work with Goodman Gallery from his Soft Vengeance series. A set of red hands, with one fist clenched, protruded from the top brim of the booth wall, hovering perilously above passers-by below. The hands represent the grip colonial West maintains over Africa; the red evocative of blood.

At Gallery MOMO Stephané Conradie's bricolage frames produced perhaps the oddest yet most visually delightful framing at the fair. The myriad objects strewn on the frame represented the displacement of culture and identity endured as byproducts of slavery and apartheid; the mismatched clustering of pieces reflected the various symbols and practices individuals have adopted to reconcile this effect. In SMAC Gallery's adjacent booth Frances Goodman introduced a convex work that resembled seductive lips. Doused in sequins they carried the lure of her other biting feminist works. 

In the spirit of emancipation and revolt that undergird the narrative of many of these artworks, the sculptures reached outward from the wall and cast shadows on the plain canvases of the gallery booth walls. Yet for other artists the struggle was internal, such as for Kyle Morland with blank projects, who levies himself formal constraints when creating his exacting 3-D forms. See how each artist came to terms with their quest and championed as revolutionary, below.