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12th Aug 2022
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MULTIPLE TECHNIQUES, SINGULAR BEAUTY

Stripes, layers, stacked textures … these striking sculptures by different artists appear to use the same techniques but in fact they’re highly divergent. For one there’s Japanese-American artist Jun Kaneko’s six-foot-tall head sculpture, which stands outside the Gardiner Ceramic Museum in Toronto. It is constructed of galvanized steel and finished in glazed ceramic.

Entirely different is “Mariposita”, a woman emerging from a shell, sculpted by New York-based architectural designer and sculptor Chris Carnabuci. This artist used a computer numerical control (CNC) cutting process to produce thousands of slices of solid-core panels, which he then assembled by hand. “Mariposita” was installed in Toronto’s Distillery Historic District for the annual Light Fest, the artist’s intention being “to bring to light” the power and beauty of the feminine spirit.

Then we have our own South African sculptor, Louis Chanu, self-taught and residing in Elgin. His preferred medium is wax. It can be heated to a malleable texture, he says, allowing his sculptures to be twisted into the precise position he is looking for. Chanu then melts additional wax and casts it into flat sheets around 1-2 mm thick. Out of the stacked sheets, he cuts the surface finish the same way a tailor cuts out a dress to fit around the nude. A single sculpture can sometimes take 20 separate moulds. The final mould is cast in bronze, which often is nickel-plated, the nickel giving the sculpture a sheen similar to silver.

Another South African sculptor, Anton Smit, working between the Cape and Bronkhorstspruit Dam, appears to use a layered approach in some of his monumental pieces – heads, human figures, masks, balancing figures – known for their raw power. However, he uses horizontal scores made into the material, mostly steel, metal, fibreglass and bronze.  

Many techniques, the same wondrous result.

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