Renowned for his technically audacious sculptures, it may come as a surprise to learn that Marco Cianfanelli studied painting – not sculpture. After graduating from the University of the Witswatersrand in 1992, Marco began experimenting with sculpture only late in the decade. He has since gone on to master this ancient but enduring craft.
Marco’s sculptural works, which employ organic and man-made materials, speak of the complex qualities that define life in contemporary South Africa. Broadly speaking, they investigate the relationship between beauty and the violence of consumption and self-preservation. Marco creates work using a wide range of materials and techniques. He has, for example, created intricate woodcut prints that reference X-ray images, ‘painted’ with digital images, branded animal hide with renaissance architectural patterns and geometric grids and, for a work displayed on his 2009 solo exhibition at the Goodman Gallery, burnt, polished, laser cut and carved plywood into its requisite form and finish.
Characterised by his gallery as “fiercely dedicated to testing the possibilities for artistic intervention in the public realm”, Marco is an enthusiastic collaborator, often working with architects and landscape designers. “I always loved architecture,” he said in a 2005 interview. “I grew up with the misconception that I was really stupid with stechnical stuff and I thought I wouldn’t be able to design buildings. It is partly true and it is partly not.”
Fences are of particular interest to Marco. “The use of razor wire is extensive and its function is obvious – the emphatic and aggressive demarcation of boundary and property.”