Remains to be seen: Chris Soal


Eduardo Secci is pleased to announce the solo show by Chris Soal in the gallery space in Milan, in Via Olmetto, from September 21 to November 11, 2022.


The exhibition brings together new and never-before-seen works by the emerging South African artist, who through sculptural practice not only wants to express a conceptual engagement with the contexts and histories of the objects and materials he uses but also re-enforces the body as a site for knowledge reception and production.


Soal's work can be considered as a social abstraction that is deeply rooted and reflective of having grown up in Johannesburg. It seeks to make a poetic statement through the simplest of ways, engaging the viewer’s spatial awareness and perception while challenging societal assumptions of value. The use of discarded and mundane ephemera, such as toothpicks and bottle caps, along with concrete, rebar, electric fencing cable, and other industrial materials, intuitively develops the familiar to the point of the uncanny.


For his first solo show in Italy and his first exhibition with the Eduardo Secci gallery, Soal has decided to investigate the legacy of Arte Povera and the connection he feels with artists such as Alberto Burri and Giuseppe Uncini, the precursor of the movement.


The repeated motifs throughout this body of work are the residual, fissure, crack, tear, singe, burn, spill, and break. The artist is interested in how entropy manifests in the man-made: the organic presents itself as a renewable force capable of resisting it, but to which we must then also forego imposing purely our agenda. This relationship between intuition and intention revealing in the suggestions of intestinal and cerebral form is what propels his work. In an ongoing engagement with the material, Soal threaded salvaged beer bottle tops onto electric fencing cable encouraging its natural coil and twist to determine the form of the entire work.


From a socio-political point of view, the presence of beer bottle tops strewn in the streets of Johannesburg and in their resemblance to entrails, speaks to a certain attitude towards consumption and its violent excesses. The writhing and serpentine nature of the work also calls to mind mythical figures such as Medusa and the Gorgons. 


In researching versions of the myth of Perseus and Medusa, the artist interprets it by contemplating the metaphor of the role of art in society. While the direct encounter with the Gorgon transforms the individual into stone, art can be the medium, the mirror or the shield through which we can face complex issues without becoming paralyzed by them.


Compelling the viewer to question their own complicity within our society of excessive consumption and mass-production, Soal’s toothpicks works astound and confound the perception of this humble material. Foregrounding pressing ecological concerns, these works primarily attempt to expose the paradoxical relationship humankind has with nature, that of simultaneous dependence and domination. 




Chris Soal (1994, South Africa) lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town. He earned the BA Fine Arts at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg (2017). Among his exhibitions: the solo show Elegy, NIROX Foundation (2021, Cradle of Humankind, Johannesburg) and the group shows Disrupture - 30 Years after, Kunstraum (2022, Brussels); The Norval Sovereign African Art Prize 2022 Finalists Exhibition, Norval Foundation (2022, Cape Town); Margins of Error, NIROX Sculpture Park (2021, Cradle of Humankind, Johannesburg); Matereality, Iziko South African National Gallery (2020, Cape Town); Il est une fois dans l’Ouest, Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MÉCA (2019, Bordeaux); Germination, RAW Material Company (2018, Dakar); Forward? Forward! Forward..., Stellenbosch University Museum (2018, Stellenbosch); Beyond Troubled Water(s), Gong Laut: The First Singaraja International Art Forum (2018, Bali); NEWWORK17, Wits School of Arts Graduate Exhibition, Wits Art Museum (2017, Johannesburg); Activate/Captivate: Collections re-engagement, Wits Art Museum (2016, Johannesburg); #ULTRACONTEMPORARY#EMERGENCYART#AFRICA, MOAD - Museum of African Design, (2016, Johannesburg).  He received many prizes: The Claire & Edoardo Villa Will Trust Grant (2020); SEED Award, SAFFCA - Southern African Foundation for Contemporary Art (2019); PPC Imaginarium Award (2018). Among his artist residences: SAFFCA.EU, La Cambre (2022, Brussels); NIROX Foundation Residency, NIROX Sculpture Park (2021, Cradle of Humankind, Johannesburg); RAW Material Company (2019, Dakar); SAFFCA - Southern African Foundation for Contemporary Art (2018, Knysna). His works is included in numerous public and private collections. Chris Soal was among the selected artists of Dior Lady Art #5 in 2020.


Installation Views