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

Rirhandzu Makhubele, I'm awake I'm awake!, 2020. Earthernware, Charcoal Clay, 26 x 17 x 15cm.
Rirhandzu Makhubele, I’m awake I’m awake!, 2020. Earthernware, Charcoal Clay, 26 x 17 x 15cm. Courtesy of the artist & SculptX.

This annual sculpture fair, the largest of its kind in South Africa, will present over 200 works created by more than 70 sculptors. The materials are fashioned 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. Works also range in scale from a 5m Roger the Rabbit created by Carol Cauldwell and an 18 tonnes granite sculpture by Pitika Ntuli to miniature pieces that weigh less than 1kg.

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 presented across multiple indoor and outdoor venues from 1 September until 16 October. “SculptX has grown to become a highlight of the South African arts calendar providing a valuable platform for the promotion of sculpture and those who create them,” says Craig Mark, director of The Melrose Gallery.

This fair was conceived in response to the increased number of artists adopting this genre in response to the global demand for sculpture. This demand has translated into establishment of several outdoor sculpture parks in the country by several art foundations and artists primarily working in this medium. “SculptX provides much benefit to those who live, work, and play in the Melrose Arch precinct but also to the artists in terms of exposure and revenue and collectors who wait all year for such a varied and diverse selection to choose from”, adds Craig Mark.

Development is the foundation on which SculptX was founded, and it is unique in that it provides a valuable space for artists at different levels in their careers to present their artworks. Established artists – Willie Bester, Pitika Ntuli, Andre Stead, Jean Doyle 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, James Cook and Bridget Modema as well as other emerging and mid-career artists still exploring the possibilities of sculpture.

Carol Cauldwell, Roger The Rabiit, 2019. Bronze, 5200cm. Courtesy of the artist & The Melrose Gallery.
Carol Cauldwell, Roger The Rabit, 2019. Bronze, 5200cm. Courtesy of the artist & The Melrose Gallery.

Female artists are represented strongly in the fair, with works by Wilma Cruise, Elizabeth Balcomb, Ela Cronje, Rirhandzu Makhubele, Philiswa Lila 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 and her team, considered more than 300 submissions before settling on the 200 works by 70 artists. This approach ensures that SculptX remains an open platform that offers up many surprises in terms of its content. ‘We feel that the South African arts sector needs to be more inclusive and less exclusive to provide wider benefit to artists and audiences from all segments of the population, and SculptX has been extremely successful in achieving this,” says Ruzy Rusike.

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 again be paired with an online viewing room where more details about the artworks and the artists will be available on www.themelrosegallery.com , allowing those near and far to enjoy and browse through the vast content this fair offers. Dialogues, walkabouts and workshops focused on the artists and sculpture as a form of expression will be held during the run of the fair.

All are welcome, and entrance for SculptX is free from 1 September to 16 October 2022 at The Melrose Gallery, Melrose Arch, Johannesburg.


Esther Mahlangu, Ndebele Abstract Sculpture, 2020. Acrylic on wood.
Esther Mahlangu, Ndebele Abstract Sculpture, 2020. Acrylic on wood. Courtesy of the artist & The Melrose Gallery.
Dr Esther Mahlangu Releases New Series of Sculptures:

We are excited to be presenting a new series of sculptures created by Dr Esther Mahlangu for the first time. Whilst many of Dr Mahlangu’s most known artworks have been created by painting on objects such as cars, planes, vodka bottles and motorbikes, this is the first time she has focused on creating a sculpture and not using products created for another purpose.

Willie Bester, Trendy women with glasses, 2022. Bronze, 68 x 38 x 29cm. Courtesy of the artist & The Melrose Gallery.
Willie Bester, Trendy women with glasses, 2022. Bronze, 68 x 38 x 29cm. Courtesy of the artist & The Melrose Gallery.
Dr Willie Bester Releases New Series of Bronzes:

Dr Willie Bester will be attending the opening of SculptX 2022 to unveil three bronze busts to the public for the first time. These works are the first in a new and natural direction for the artist who is globally acclaimed for his powerful sculptural pieces that are typically created from metal and found objects gathered from scrap yards in the Western Cape. Willie is one of South Africa’s foremost resistance artists and his assemblages speak against social, economic, political, and other injustice.

Public Walkabout:

Please join Willie Bester and other participating artists for a walkabout and engagement around their artworks from 12:30 till 2pm on 1 September at The Melrose Gallery, 10 The High Street, Melrose Arch, Johannesburg. RSVP is essential to curator@themelrosegallery.com as space is limited.

Sculpture Workshops:

Sandro Trapani will be coordinating two-day sculpture workshops at Melrose Arch and Art & Collect in Midrand as part of SculptX 2022. Previous workshops implemented by Sandro throughout South Africa have been extremely well received, and those with interest in sculpture benefitted greatly from his vast experience as a sculptor.

The workshops will take place at Melrose Arch on Friday 30 September and Saturday 1 October and in Midrand on Fri 14 and 15 October. The cost is R1900 per workshop, including all materials, and you will create and take home your sculpture once complete.

For more information on these workshops and to book your space contact Sandro Trapani on 073 170 9176 or on info@sandrotrapani.com

Participating Artists:

Alan Ainslie, Alexander von Klitzing, Amita Makan, Andre Stead, Andries Botha, Arno Morland, Ben Tuge, Bridget Modema, Bronwynn Gooch, Carl Roberts, Carol Cauldwell, Cassian Robbertze, Chonat Getz, Chuma Maweni, Chumisa Fihla, Coral Bijoux, Cobus Haupt, Cornelia Stoop, Cristina Salvoldi, David Hlongwane, Debbie Farnaby, Dikeledi Maponya, Dominique Albinski, Dora Prevost, Elizabeth Balcomb, Ella Cronje, Dr Esther Mahlangu, Eve de Jong, Gabriele Jacobs, Glen Cook, Gordon Froud, Sir Ike Nkoana, Jean Louw, James Cook, Jean Doyle, Jenny Nijenhuis, Jimmy Law, Keith Calder, Kenneth Shandu, Larissa Matthews, Lee-at Meyerov, Lothar Böttcher, Luyanda Mkhize, Mandy Johnston, Maritza Breitenbach, Mark Chapman, Mark Swart, Millicent Hoko, Niel Jonker, Nicola Roos, Oscar Henning, Paul du Toit, Pedro Malada, Philiswa Lila, Pholile Hlongwane, Pierre Fourie, Pitika Ntuli, Rirhandzu Makhubele, Sandile Radebe, Sandra Maytham-Bailey, Sandro Trapani, Sarah Richards, Simon Zitha, Siyabulele Ndodana, Sonja Swanepoel, Strijdom van der Merwe, Theophelus Rikhatso, Uwe Pfaff, Dr Willie Bester, Wilma Cruise and Xirilo Wayne Ngobeni

For more information on SculptX, please follow this link.

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