WHATIFTHEWORLD hosts a Walkabout with Chris Soal

17 February 2024
10:00 – 11:00
1st Floor, 16 Buiten Street, 8000, Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Please join us for a walkabout with Chris Soal at WHATIFTHEWORLD gallery, where he will be providing insight into his solo exhibition ’Surface Tension’.


The focus of the exhibition is the artist’s exploration of a new medium which has been a growing idea over the last seven years that has increasingly crept into his practice at large. The body of work being presented explores the new material and expands on various themes that were uncovered through the process of developing the work.



Artist biography:


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), and with WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery in Cape Town (2021).


Notably, Soal was selected as one of ten 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.


Founded in 2008, WHATIFTHEWORLD is a recognised contemporary art gallery both within South Africa and internationally. Part question, part purpose and part statement, their name anticipates the gallery’s program: a host of ambitious projects that promote curiosity and thought. With a strong focus on Africa and the African diaspora, the gallery represents influential artists who engage with global and local contemporary art and socio-political contexts. The gallery is dedicated to showing resolute solo projects and multi-disciplinary installations, with an interest in creating an environment that allows artists the freedom to create significant exhibitions.


WHATIFTHEWORLD regularly participates in art fairs, including Armory Show, 1-54, and Untitled. Gallery artists have exhibited in major exhibitions and biennials including the 57th and 55th Venice Biennial; The Havana Biennial, Cuba; Sharjah Biennial, UAE; Guangzhou Triennial Guangzhou, China; Le Biennial de Dakar, Senegal as well as exhibitions hosted at prestigious venues such at the Center Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC; SFMOMA San Francisco and MOMA, New York; Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain; Tate Modern, London and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago.


1st Floor, 16 Buiten Street, 8000, Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
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