toothpicks

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Art

Toothpicks and Found Objects Form Amorphous Sculptures by Chris Soal

October 20, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Lament (We thought the good times would never end) (2019), birch wood toothpicks, polyurethane sealant, ripstop fabric, board. 67 x 91 x 24 inches. All photographs by Matthew Bradley unless noted

South African artist Chris Soal combines concrete and other industrial materials with found objects such as toothpicks and bottle caps to create conceptual sculptures. Often set in contrasting textural elements, thousands of single-use objects take on a new identity and aesthetic as part of a collective. The works are a commentary on the destructive relationship humans have with nature while also reflecting notions of value and perception.

Birch wood toothpicks are held in place using polyurethane sealants on ripstop fabric and board. The toothpicks, some raw and others burnt, fill spaces in concrete slabs and appear to form soft dripping patterns as they snake down to the floor. The artist tells Colossal that his use of these “mundane everyday objects” began after he snapped a photo of some in a jar while having dinner. After initially dismissing the toothpicks as “stupid and worthless,” experimenting with them a couple years later changed how Soal perceived the material. “I was immediately amazed by how they transcend their appearance as hard and sharp objects to appearing soft and luscious when arranged in mass,” he says. “I then began to question the fact that I dismissed them upon first encounter, and the work led me to interrogate notions of value and perceptions through the works.”

Lament (We thought the good times would never end), detail

Soal says that growing up in Johannesburg has had an impact on his work. “It is a city in tension, and I think my work is often about locating oneself within that space, both as a response and a critique.” He doesn’t, however, see himself as the only force that determines how the three-dimensional sculptures are realized. “I am merely a facilitator of possibility for the works,” he explains. “I created the conditions for existence, and the material then morphs and develops as gravity and other forces move it to. As laborious, time-consuming pieces the process is also very contemplative and meditative, very much about a connection between my body and the object and how the shaping of form is related to touch.”

Alongside artist Michele Mathison, Chris Soal will be showing a new body of work at the Artissima art fair in Italy with WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery from October 31 through November 3, 2019. He is also preparing for a large project in Brussels in the near future. For a closer look at Soal’s sculptures, follow the artist on Instagram. (thx, Anna!)

Lament (We thought the good times would never end), detail

Climb into someone else’s skin and walk around in it (2018), toothpicks, polyurethane sealant, Milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme/”umbhobe” (zulu)) branches. Approximately 28 x 18 x 14 inches. Photograph: the artist

The Fourth Circle (The Demise of Frank Lucas) (2019), birch wood toothpicks, burnt and unburnt, polyurethane sealant, ripstop fabric, board. 75 x 57 x 12 inches

The Fourth Circle (The Demise of Frank Lucas), detail

In the face of overwhelming opposition (2019), concrete, and birch wood toothpicks, polyurethane adhesive, ripstop fabric. 34 x 35 x 3 inches. Private collection. Photograph: Mike Taylor

In the face of overwhelming opposition, detail

 

 



Art

One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco

April 23, 2011

Christopher Jobson

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Thirty five years ago I had yet to be born, but artist Scott Weaver had already begun work on this insanely complex kinetic sculpture, Rolling through the Bay, that he continues to modify and expand even today. The elaborate sculpture is comprised of multiple “tours” that move pingpong balls through neighborhoods, historical locations, and iconic symbols of San Francisco, all recreated with a little glue, some toothpicks, and an incredible amount of ingenuity. He admits in the video that there are several toothpick sculptures even larger than his, but none has the unique kinetic components he’s constructed. Via his website Weaver estimates he’s spent over 3,000 hours on the project, and the toothpicks have been sourced from around the world:

I have used different brands of toothpicks depending on what I am building. I also have many friends and family members that collect toothpicks in their travels for me. For example, some of the trees in Golden Gate Park are made from toothpicks from Kenya, Morocco, Spain, West Germany and Italy. The heart inside the Palace of Fine Arts is made out of toothpicks people threw at our wedding.

See the sculpture for yourself at the Tinkering Studio through the end of June. Photos courtesy of their Flickr gallery.

Update: Rolling Through the Bay has been moved to the American Visionary Art Museum through September 2012. (thnx, jenny!)