Piero Atchugarry Gallery is pleased to announce Finds Taken For Wonders, the debut solo-exhibition in our Miami Survey of newly represented South African artist Chris Soal.

Finds Taken For Wonders brings together key concerns in the artist’s sculptural practice, inviting viewers to reconsider their perceptual biases while challenging societal assumptions of value. Soal’s works poetically contain a deep longing to expose the destructive relationship between humankind and nature by engaging the viewer’s spatial awareness of their own body in relation to the monumental organic forms that shape these large-scale sculptures.

Through his use of discarded and mundane ephemera, Soal’s work intuitively develops the familiar to the point of the uncanny. Using conventional mass-produced objects such as beer bottle tops and bamboo toothpicks, Soal highlights the stories embedded into these found materials by extracting them from their typical context. Beer bottle tops become writhing, twisting forms, which appear almost intestinal, but in reality serve as a reminder of the excesses available to us in our modern day. These elements of marginal discard become signifiers of the socio-political and economic excrescences of our society. And yet despite all they evoke, we cannot look away from the spiraling serpentine forms, we are spellbound and challenged through wonder, prompting the question: How do we see the world anew again?

The impressive scale of Soal’s toothpick sculptures intentionally challenge viewers to see not just with the eyes, but to perceive with the body, inviting viewers to bodily consider their relation to the work. For instance, the initial soft fur or skin like appearance beckons one to move closer, allowing for an intimate reading and intimidating closeness towards these biomorphic sculptures. It is through this phenomenological encounter that the viewer is made to contemplate the ecological ramifications of societal actions.

Ultimately, by working with materials fated to be discarded, Soal’s meticulously-built toothpick sculptures reference both nature and environmental decay pleading to be empathetically recognised.

The delight in discovery is something that has pushed my work forward ever since I have started. It is through this moment of awe that the viewer is invited into a space of agency - for now the parameters of a prior way of seeing have been dismantled, and there lies an invitation to reassess what has been relegated to the peripheral.

(Chris Soal)

Chris Soal (b. 1994) is an award-winning, emerging South African artist. Soal’s studio-based practice is sculptural in its output, working with objects and materials in ways which show not only a conceptual engagement with the contexts and histories of the objects, but that also re-enforce the body as a site for knowledge reception and production. Soal’s works seek to make a poetic statement through the simplest of means, engaging the viewer’s spatial awareness and perception while challenging societal assumptions of value.

Through his use of discarded and mundane ephemera, such as toothpicks and bottle caps, along with concrete, rebar, electric fencing cable and other industrial materials, Soal’s work intuitively develops the familiar to the point of the uncanny. Soal’s works can be considered as a social abstraction that is deeply rooted and reflective of having grown up in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Specifically, the artist’s work with beer bottle caps explore the legacy of gold mining in the city, with the illusory concavities and convexities of his spiralled wall pieces becoming suggestive of the appearance and disappearance of mine dumps and sinkholes. Foregrounding pressing ecological concerns, the artist’s works with toothpicks primarily consider and seek to expose the paradoxical relationship humankind has with nature, that of simultaneous dependence and domination.