The Nirox Residency in Maropeng became the rolling outdoor setting for the After the Rainbow Nation:2013 sculpture show, currated by Mary-Jane Darrol. The show opened in The Hague in 2012, and has now returned to South Africa for the next 3 months.
Some of the works are familiar, and others are macro versions or evolutions of maquettes. These are also on display in various spaces around the grounds, adding another layer of scale to the overarching exhibition.
Each sculpture is carefully curated, set in dialogue with its surrounds. Each piece becomes the centre of a little scene, a micro world rotating around a macro structure. Walking around the sculptures, into their setting, touching them, interacting with their physicality, transforms you from a viewer into participant. Wandering around the grounds feels like a fantastical journey, where strange creatures are encountered in different lands.
Kim Liebermann’s figure, Human Interception I Prof. Lee Burger, crouches amidst a network of red cables, and below a web, encircling it like a halo. The figure is heavy, solid upon the ground, encased between the cables which also come down into the earth, rooting the entire structure firmly to its location.
Angus Taylor’s compacted earth sculptures appear to rise up out of the ground they stand upon. His rock giant, Layers of Being, towers colossal, yet is humble as he kneels upon the ground that he will slowly erode away into. Fractal I incorporates steal, but the base is made out of earth, and will dissolve away, leaving the solid top to fall to the ground.
Gordon Fround’s Rhino, grazing in a lush and picturesque field becomes a sadly ironic idyll. The plastic clothes hangers out of which it is constructed are more than likely Chinese imports, and the form they create has now become a Chinese export.
Dollos 1 & 2, by Ansie Greyling, reinterprets the famous concrete seawall structures as light and transparent outlines, seemingly just tumbled into their setting. These structures, no longer able to hold water at bay, become useful in another way, as a framework around which something can move and grow.
Richard Forbes’ VortexII sits calmly on the surface of a pool like a giant origami lotus, while Vortex I is frozen in time, caught midway in its wild careen down the grass embankment.
Bronwyn Lace’s exploded and reconfigured rhino skeleton, Ouroboros, offers a far more subtle and thoughtful comment on the plight of rhinos than a previous work’s attempt earlier this year.
Berand de Wet’s Red Rooster and Mellow Yellow belie their hard steel structure beneath their playful bright paint coats. They look like inflatable children’s’ toys, tottering alone where they’ve been forgotten.
Blue Mask by Kevin Brand stands awkwardly propped up on the edge of a forest, part visor, part mask, part mounted trophy. The bright blues contrast sharply with the surrounding green, but are reminiscent of traditional African crafts.
Standing alone in the centre of a field is David Brown’s The Horse, the Knee and the Amputee. This solitary military figure stands to attention in his own bizarre manner. He becomes a symbol of absurdity and madness, a bird perched on his fat cigar, his face set in a wild grimace, a lame horse at his waste and his genitals hanging down where his right leg should continue to be.
Zigzagging up from the water’s edge is Rodan Hart’s Emerging Illusionistic Bend, which when seen from across the water resembles the hill rising in the background. His Exploded Kaleidoscope reflects and refracts the landscape, breaking it into jagged shards, like a crystal brought up from the deep and into the sunlight.
Angus Taylor’s Disproportion pair take on whole new personas in their respective locations. Inflation Artist I becomes a tottering oaf, stuck halfway across a stream, an embodiment of the hindrance of ego. Deflation Artist II lies inconspicuously in a storm waterway, his life and substance washed away with the water.
Gordon Froud’s Cone Virus is a luminous flotsam that has washed up on the water’s edge. The bright orange safety cones connote danger, but what danger in this idyllic setting is not obvious, which makes them all the more ominous.
Scuttling across a lawn is Beth Armstrong’s Surface Weight, on its way somewhere and in a great hurry. This structure seems tipped upside down, at odds with itself, but alive as a result.
Guy Du Toit’s 34 Skulls stands like an eerie totem poll, a tower of death rising out of a pool. Is it a warning, of something lurking beneath the surface of the water?
Like a giant contour map of the landscape, Marco Cianfanelli’s From the Cradle to the Grave reclining figure silhouette becomes another layer of topography.
Gavin Young’s Curating the Waves installation has up and left its watery setting. Borne up on legs made of oars, the tin boat strides off defiantly over the hill, looking for greener pastures perhaps, stringing a trail of buoys in its wake.