SculptX 2022: Group Exhibition

The fifth edition of SculptX will open this spring offering Joburgers the unique opportunity to view the largest and most diverse collection of sculptures.

This annual sculpture fair, the largest of its kind in South Africa, will, this year, present over 200 works. The materials they are fashioned from vary from bronze to wood, glass, crystal, steel and bone to stone, resin, and other media. Similarly, the modes of expression encompassed in this vast number of sculptures vary widely from figurative works, depicting the human body, the natural world, or the built environment to abstract works, where form, texture and line entertain the eye.

In this way SculptX reveals the breadths and depths that this traditional art medium can offer and the abundance of artistic talent in the country that has applied itself to this three-dimensional art form. In short, SculptX is a celebration of all manner of sculptural expression.

It was established by The Melrose Gallery in 2017 in association with Melrose Arch and will be on view across multiple venues from September 1 until October 16. “We wanted to create a platform to promote sculpture and sculptors to those who live, work, and play in the precinct, as well as art collectors and enthusiasts in general,” says Craig Mark, director of The Melrose Gallery.

This fair was also conceived in response to the increase in bronze-casting foundries in South Africa, which has led to a growth in the production and interest in sculpture. This has translated into the establishment of outdoor sculpture parks in the country by a number of art foundations and artists primarily working in this medium.

Clearly, there is a need for more platforms for sculpture. SculptX provides a space for artists at different levels in their careers. Established artists – 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 Mandy Johnston, Simon Zitha, and Bridget Modema as well as other emerging and mid-career artists still exploring the possibilities of sculpture.

Female artists are represented strongly in the fair with works by Wilma Cruise, Elizabeth Balcomb, Ela Cronje, Rirhandzu Makhubele, and Sarah Richards 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 previously disadvantaged communities to give them the benefit of this valuable platform as they are often overlooked and underrepresented in this genre,” adds Mark.

A public call-out process was used to identify works for the fair and attracted proposals from many emerging artists. Curator, Ruzy Rusike, considered more than 300 submissions before settling on the 200 works by 80 artists. This approach ensures that SculptX remains an open platform that offers up many surprises in terms of its content.

The works will be shown at The Melrose Gallery and a number of other indoor and outdoor venues in Melrose Arch. This year the fair will once again be paired with an online viewing room where more details about the artworks and the artists will be available, allowing those near and far to enjoy and browse through the vast content this fair offers. Panel discussions and workshops focussed on the artists and sculpture as a form of expression will be held during the run of the fair.

SculptX runs from 1 September to 16 October 2022 at The Melrose Gallery, Melrose Arch, Johannesburg.