Chris Soal



About

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 perceptual habits while challenging core societal preconceptions of value and hierarchy.

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

Working symbiotically with his materials, Soal utilises the inherent physical characteristics of the objects to transform them through processes of aggregation, combination and erosion to interrogate views of nature and culture as a binary concept – seeking to foreground pressing ecological concerns by repositioning the viewer as an active agent within the contemporary environment. Despite the artificiality of his materials, Soal’s process allows the materials to take on biomorphic qualities or evoke natural phenomena, expressing his interest in the phenomenological quality of the materials.

In 2017, Soal graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts (Hons) at the University of Witwatersrand. He was awarded the PPC Imaginarium Award in 2018, alongside being named the winner of the Sculpture category.

He has been awarded residencies by the RAW Material Company in Dakar, Senegal (2019); by the South African Foundation of Contemporary Art in South Africa (2018), and Brussels (2022), and by the Nirox Foundation, Cradle of Humankind (2021). Recently Soal has held solo exhibitions with Piero Atchugarry Gallery in Miami (2023), Eduardo Secci Gallery in Milan (2022), a solo booth at Art Brussels with WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery (2022). Select solo exhibitions include Orbits of Relating, No End Contemporary Art Space, Johannesburg (2018), As Below So Above (2021), and Remains to be seen, Eduardo Secci Gallery, Milano, Italy (2022).

Notably, Soal was selected as one of 10 contemporary artists to participate in the 5th edition of the Dior Lady Art project, in 2020/2021. Soal’s work forms part of significant private and public collections both locally and internationally, including the Brooklyn Museum (USA), MACAAL Museum (Morocco), LAM Museum (Netherlands), the Bunker Artspace (USA), Galila’s P.O.C. (Belgium), Arsenal Contemporary (Canada), The Braunsfelder Family Collection (Germany), the Mona Museum (Tasmania) and the Cloud 7 collection (Belgium), amongst others.

Click here to view selected works.

Selected Press:

Dior Lady Art project interview with Chris Soal on Bizcommunity by Evan-Lee Courie

Toothpicks and Found Objects Form Amorphous Sculptures by Chris Soal (2019) by Colossal

Times Live feature by Thango Ntwasa

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2024 Surface Tension - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
2022 Remains to be seen, Eduardo Secci Gallery, Milano, Italy
2021 Sleight and Substance, Montoro 12 Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
As below so above - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
Elegy, Nirox foundation, The Cradle of Humankind, Johannesburg
2019 Field of Vision - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
TOMORROWS/TODAY, Solo Section at Investec Cape Ton Art Fair, Cape Town
2018 Orbits of Relating, No End Contemporary Art Space, Johannesburg

Selected Group Exhibitions

2023 L'art de rien at CENTRALE for contemporary art, Brussels
2022 In Times Like These… and Other Stories, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town, South Africa Witness, curated by Natasha Becker, Piero Atchugarry Gallery, Miami
The Norval Sovereign African Art Prize Finalists Exhibition, Norval Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa
Earth Power!, Montoro 12, Brussels, Belgium
Seeds of the Fig - Twee Jonge Gezellen Wine Estate, Krone x WHATIFTHEWORLD, Tulbagh, South Africa
2021 40 Under 40, Twee Jonge Gezellen Wine Estate, Krone x WHATIFTHEWORLD, Tulbagh, South Africa
Margins of Error, Nirox Sculptire Park, The Cradle of Humankind, Johannesburg, South Africa RESTUDIO, Cunnigham Contemporary, Johannesburg, South Africa
Witness, Piero Atchugarry Gallery, Miami
That Hidden Thread, NIROX Sculpture Park, Johannesburg
2020 Matereality, Iziko National Gallery, Cape Town
2019 Il est une fois à l’Ouest. Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MÉCA in Bordeaux, France.
Process - BKhz, Braamfontein. 2019
2018 Germination, RAW Material Company, Partcours festival, Dakar, Senegal
Forward? Forward! Forward..., Stellenbosch University Museum, Stellenbosch
Beyond Troubled Water(s), GONG LAUT: The First Singaraja International Art Forum, Bali, Indonesia
Fresh Voices: Emerging Talent from SA, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, Guns and Rain Gallery, Johannesburg.
2017 NEWWORK 2017, Wits School of Arts Grad Show, Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg.
Washington186 Inaugural Exhibition, Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels, Belgium
All the Voices, Fried Contemporary, Pretoria
Wits Young Artist Award Exhibition, The Point of Order, Johannesburg
Taxi Art Foundation Award Top 30 Exhibition, Lizamore and Associates Gallery, Johannesburg
What’s in it for you?, No End Contemporary Art Space, Johannesburg.
2016 undermine – a collaborative group occupation, The Point of Order, Johannesburg
Activate/Captivate: Collections re-engagement, Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg

Art Fairs

Cape Town Art Fair 2024
Art Brussels 2024
Miart 2024
Abu Dhabi Art Fair
Art Cologne 2023
Artissima 2023
1-54 London 2023
FNB Art Joburg 2023
NOMAD Capri 2023
Art Brussels 2023
Cape Town Art Fair 2023
Untitled Miami Beach 2022
1-54 London 2022
Joburg Art Fair 2022
Art Brussels 2022
Expo Chicago 2022
Cape Town Art Fair 2022
Artissima 2021

Awards

2020
Recipient of The Claire & Edoardo Villa Will Trust Grant.

 

2019
SEED Award Presented by the Southern African Foundation for Contemporary Art (SAFFCA) – For career acknowledgement.

 

2018
PPC Imaginarium Award – Overall winner, and winner of the Sculpture category.

Permanent Collections

The Beth Rudin DeWoody collection (The Bunker Artspace), USA.

The Braunsfelder Family Collection, Germany.

Galila’s P.O.C. – The collection of Galila Barzilaï-Hollander, Belgium.

The Sylt Foundation Collection, Germany.

Southern African Foundation for Contemporary Art (SAFFCA), South Africa and France. 

Modern Art Projects, South Africa.   

First Rand Bank, Corporate collection, South Africa.  

The Department of Arts and Culture, South Africa.

The Rupert Family Collection, South Africa.

Barloworld Corporate Collection, South Africa.

The Ackerman-Berman Collection, South Africa.

The Tollman Family Collection, South Africa and UK.

Tisot Art Collection Trust, Italy.

Brooklyn Museum Collection,  Booklyn, New York, USA.