︎ Surface tension, 2024
︎ Finds taken for wonders, 2023
︎ Remains to be seen, 2022
︎ Elegy, 2021
︎ As below so above, 2021
︎ Margins of Error, 2021

︎ 2023
︎ 2022
︎ 2021
︎ 2020

︎ 2019
︎ 2018
︎ 2017


Installation view of With you or without you (2020), Requiem (2021) and Paniki (2021)

WHATIFTHEWORLD and Chris Soal are pleased to present Elegy at The Nirox Foundation’s The Covered Space. In response to the context and conditions of the exhibition space, key works spanning the last four years have been selected from the artist’s own collection. Living and working in Johannesburg — a “city in tension” as Soal calls it — has had a great impact on the artist’s work, as this position is “often about locating oneself in that space, both as a response and a critique.” Through his use of discarded and mundane ephemera, such as toothpicks and bottle caps, in conjunction with concrete, rebar, electric fencing cable and other industrial materials,Soal examines structural impacts on urban living, reflects on the individual in relationto the collective, and foregrounds ecological concerns.
Chris Soal’s approach to sculpture reveals a sensitivity to material, texture and form; expressed through an abstract language. Conceptually, his works refer to the socio-political context of their production, highlighting the histories embedded in the material and utilizing them in a way that challenges societal assumptions of value. Elegy touches on themes of ruins, decay, erosion, the relic and effigy, and stands in conversation with the artist’s first large-scale outdoor installation, Relic (2019-2021).

With or without you, 2020
Discarded Beer Bottle Caps threaded onto Electric Fencing Cable with Burnt and Unburnt Birch Wood Toothpicks held in Polyurethane Sealant on Fibreglass, Board and Ripstop Fabric
250 x 130 x 25 cm
Requiem, 2021
Bamboo and Birch Wood Toothpicks, held in Polyurethane Sealant on Board
155 x 210 x 30 cm
Installation view of Requiem (2021) and Paniki (2021)
Paniki, 2021
Found Beer Bottle Cops threaded onto Electric Fencing Cable, held in Polyurethane Sealant on Board
195 x 84 x 10 cm
Speak the truth even if your voice shakes, 2018
Bamboo Toothpicks, Burnt Wood from the 2017 Knysna Fires, South Africa
160 x 23 x 20 cm
The haunting of our age, 2019
Concrete Relief Cast
72.5 x 161 x 10 cm [Triptych]
Elegy | 2021 | Nirox Foundation, Johannesburg | Installation View

The artist acknowledges the support of the The Claire and Edoardo Villa Will Trust, whose grant made much of the production behind this work possible.

Acknowledgement also goes to the Soal Studio team: Jonathan Illunga, Israel Sambuka, Dean van Wyk, to VM Engineering, and many others who have been integral to bringing this project into existence.


︎ ARTICLE on Design Indaba
︎ ARTICLE on Sunday Times by Sanet Oberholzer
︎ ARTICLE on WANTED by Julia Freemantle