The Timelessness of a Tempest
By H. F. Theron

There is something about the medium of sculpture as an artistic expression that resonates inherently with the South African spirit. It resonates on a level of resilience, timelessness, tradition and beauty that defies its origin.
Unsurprisingly then, South African sculpture has in a whirlwind-fashion become iconic, not only within the four corners of our heartland, but also as a blistering export-commodity. It follows that great sculpture has an essence of being both traditional and contemporary at the same time, defying contradiction and singular appeal.

Remnant Boy, 2019, wood.

With this in mind, there are few artists that embody this spirit of timelessness and tradition more so than Kobus La Grange. Whilst being equally prolific in bronze sculpture, Kobus’ true love affair is with the somewhat forlorn art of wood carving. Indeed, considering the proliferation and widespread acclaim for his wood sculpture, it is no surprise that it is where Kobus truly finds his solace and has become rightfully archetypal.

Notwithstanding, both Kobus’ expressions through wood and bronze have a romantic engagement with the human form and in particular the body’s ability to carry a narrative and become theatre in and of itself. His work manifests as poetry through physiology; from the delicate and over-burdened female form, to overtly intimate childhood innocence – Kobus unearths character sketches from ancient and resonant materials. Kobus focuses his work on forwarding a conversation led by way of body language – his sculptures, whilst whimsical, each carry a calculated and characteristic demeanour.

Friends, 2019, wood and bronze

His work brings forth remnants of folktales and campfire melodies, bushveld laughter and an artistic expression as old as time itself – it not being far flung to envisage his figures themselves being conceived and carved in the throes of this milieu. In a modern age where everything is fleeting and impermanent, with interpersonal interaction and authenticity on the decline, Kobus’ work stands a beacon to a lost art and expressiveness in its most basic form – the human body. Kobus’ work is raw, chaotic and tumultuous – his carvings proudly portraying the cuts, slashes and textures rendered in their formation. Wood, in whichever form Kobus finds it, is unforgiving as a medium and requires decisive and deliberate action. His sculpture is  unfiltered and torn from the old world, not conforming to the ease of artistic expression that has become somewhat commonplace in recent years.

It is no haphazard manifestation nor flash in the pan that Kobus’ current body of work, arguably being the apogee of his craft, follows an immense culmination of formal training intertwined with lived experiences and underlying familial inspiration. He recalls his love for wood carving being kindled by the presence of wood-carved totems in his family home as a child, being subconsciously entranced with the interplay between their inanimate yet lifelike character – the Pinocchio Paradox. This formative influence further being bolstered by a BA in Fine and Applied Arts and a B-tech majoring in Sculpture and Ceramic Design. This mastery of three-dimensional expression not only forms the root of his own exemplary sculpture, but also led to his unique partnership with bronze sculpture royalty, Egon Tania, in their establishment of the highly acclaimed 4G8 Foundry.

The relationship between Kobus and IS Art in itself is deeply rooted, with continuous collaborations and exhibitions for more than a decade, both at IS Art’s various gallery spaces as well as the celebrated Tokara Sculpture Garden.

Remnant Girl, 2019, wood.

For more information contact: gallery@isart.co.za / Tel: (021) 876 2071

11 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek, Western Cape | 29b Church Street, Stellenbosch, Western Cape | Tokara Wine Estate, Helshoogte Road, Stellenbosch


The Writer, 2011, wood