The Fourth Edition of SculptX

WORDS Gina Dionisio PHOTOS Supplied

With over 200 sculptures on show, the fourth edition of SculptX, which opens this spring in Joburg, will offer visitors a glimpse into the different artistic approaches being applied to sculptural works.

Nature and culture are set to collide and coalesce at Africa’s largest sculpture fair: SculptX. This vital fair was established by The Melrose Gallery in 2017 in association with Melrose Arch, and this year will be on view across multiple venues from September 3 until October 24.

SculptX provides a space for artists at different levels in their careers. Established artists – Anton Smit, Botha, Willie Bester, Pitika Ntuli, Andre Stead and Strijdom van der Merwe amongst numerous others – will show alongside a younger set of artists pushing the boundaries of the medium such as Sophie Van Wyk, Bucktowar, Mandy Johnston and Kenneth Shandu as well as other emerging artists still exploring the possibilities of sculpture.

A number of artists participating in this year’s, SculptX, South Africa’s largest annual sculpture fair, are pushing the boundaries of sculpture in interesting ways. Notably, the recent popularity and interest in ceramic art has infiltrated this year’s edition, with clay works by Nindya Bucktowar and Chuma Maweni standing out.

For Bucktowar working with clay helps the artist reconnect to the earth.

“Clay is an elemental material with an ancestral link to our evolution as a species,” says the architect-turned artist of her clay installations, which consists of hanging clay forms and larger organic sculptural ones that echo both the natural and built environments or where the two might have once met. 

Nindya Bucktowar’s ‘Reef Fragments’, 2021

Maweni is interested in delving into historical vernaculars. His pit-fired clay works are created using the same techniques used by Nguni tribes before him, though his end-product appears like contemporary abstract forms.  Sandile Radebe also evokes African culture in his abstract sculptures which are intended to echo the iziqhaza – the ear plugs used to adorn the sliced earlobes in the isiZulu tradition of Ukuklekla.  

“These knowledge systems (which include the medicinal properties of herbs) are the fascination of my recent works whereby I extrapolate coded messages, scripts and beautification of the Zulu material culture towards an artistic end,” says Radebe.  

He also references “regional colour schemes of Zulu beadwork to signify variations in Zulu material culture as well to conceptually connote variants in meaning and function,” he says. 

Chuma Maweni’s ‘Twisted Construct’

Female artists are represented strongly in the fair with works by well-known artists such as Noria Mabasa, Wilma Cruise, Elizabeth Balcomb, and Ledelle Moe among many others, dispelling the myth that sculpture is primarily the preserve of male artists. 

“We have put much effort into sourcing female and young artists from the previously disadvantaged communities to give them the benefit of this valuable platform as they are often overlooked and under-represented in this genre,” observes Craig Mark, the director of the Melrose gallery.  

Participating artists at this year’s SculptX:

  • Ade Kipades
  • Alexander von Klitzing
  • Allen Laing
  • Amorous Maswanganyi
  • Andre Prinsloo
  • Andre Stead
  • Anita Finken
  • Andries Visser
  • Andries Botha
  • Arno Morland
  • Anton Smit
  • Ben Tuge
  • Bridget
  • Modema
  • Carl Roberts
  • Carol Hamman
  • Cecilia Wilmot Ballam
  • Chuma Maweni
  • Claudia Raff
  • Collen Maswanganyi
  • Cornelia Stoop
  • Cobus Haupt
  • Christiaan Diedericks
  • Di Miller
  • Dora Prevost
  • Ela Cronje
  • Elizabeth Balcomb
  • Esther Mahlangu
  • Francois Coertze
  • Francois Visser
  • Gordon Froud
  • Izanne Wiid
  • Jacques Dhont
  • James Cook
  • Jessica Bothma
  • Johannes Maswanganyi
  • Jonathan van der Walt
  • Joseph Nabste
  • Keith Calder
  • Kenneth Shandu
  • Kgotso Pati
  • Karin Lijnes
  • Kobus Le Grange
  • Kunye Collab
  • Larissa Matthews
  • Ledelle Moe
  • Leon Witthuhn
  • Lothar Bottcher
  • Louis Chanu, Malose Pete
  • Mandy Johnston
  • Mark Chapman
  • Mark Swart
  • Marieke Prinsloo
  • Marius Jansen Van Vuuren
  • Mine Kleynhans
  • Monica van den Berg
  • Nanette Ranger
  • Nicola Roos
  • Nindya Bucktowar
  • Ndabuko Ntuli
  • Noria Mabasa
  • Otto du Plessis
  • Oupavusi Mokwena
  • Paul du Toit
  • Phahlo Mtangai
  • Pitika Ntuli
  • Rirhandzu Makhubele
  • Ronald Muchatuta
  • Ruhan Janse van Vuuren
  • Sandile Radebe
  • Sandro Trapani
  • Sarah Richards
  • Sarel Petrus
  • Sifiso Shange
  • Simon Zitha
  • Siyabulele Ndodana
  • Sophia van Wyk
  • Stian Deetlefs
  • Strijdom van der Merwe
  • Talita Steyn
  • Theophelus Rikhatso
  • Tumelo Mphela
  • Tzung-Hui Lauren Lee
  • Wessel van Huyssteen
  • William Sweetlove
  • Willie Bester
  • Wilma Cruise
  • Xanthe Jackson
  • Zanoxolo Sylvester Mqeku

SculptX runs from 3 September to 24 October 2021 will be shown at the Melrose Gallery and a number of other venues at Melrose Arch, which include the Daytona showroom, as well as Sandton City’s Diamond Walk.

Looking for more on local art? Take a look at all the local virtual exhibitions, here.