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September 22, 2023

Century City unveils remarkable Anton Smit artwork in The Subway

Century City unveiled a spectacular artwork by world-renowned South African artist, Anton Smit, at a VIP event on Tuesday, 19 September, in an unusual location, The Subway.  Commissioned by the Century City Arts Foundation, “Landscape of the Soul” was formally opened to the public at an event attended by over a hundred invitees.

Known as The Subway, an underpass exists underneath the main arterial road, Century Boulevard.  A canal runs through its centre, and with its three-metre-high arched columns, the space has a cathedral-like ambience.  The Subway connects the old part of Century City to the new and stands at the edge of Ratanga Park. The Subway is utilised by thousands of visitors staying at nearby hotels and dining at restaurants, attendees of the Conference Centre, as well as tourists and locals who enjoy boat rides, canoeing, and kayaking on the canal. Additionally, the weekly parkrun at Century City draws hundreds of runners who also pass under The Subway.

“Since the inception of the Century City Arts Trail in 2014,” says John Chapman, Chairman of the Century City Arts Foundation (CCAF), “we have commissioned original art across the precinct in unusual places. From a mural underneath a bridge, painted by Chris Auret, to giant otters made of scrap steel by Callum Pickard and displayed on an unused abutment, our goal is to beautify Century City with original local art. The Subway was identified last year as an area with great potential, and we were reminded of all the beautifully decorated subways that you find across the world’s underground stations.  Some of them are like mini-art galleries, and our vision was to turn this cold concrete space into an art attraction and a place for people to pause and linger, rather than speed through.”

The Landscape of the Soul is the largest single composite artwork that Anton has made to date, incorporating various sizes of fragmented masks, each of which are securely mounted on the wall in a staggered series of faces forming a lyrical wave of identity.  This juxtaposition of 500 masks, protruding from a 33 metre long wall, three metres high, is an impressive sight to behold in its entirety. As you step closer, you see that every face is fragmented. Each viewpoint transforms the landscape into something else entirely.

“The vastness of it the space, invites bold, fluid art,” says Anton Smit. “Therefore, the vision spans the entire length of the pedestrian walkway. I love people, and people are the inspiration for all my work. For this expansive installation I wanted to illustrate that even though we are all faces in the crowd, we do form a unity through love that binds us. We realise that the only way we can know ourselves is through others. Our reflections crave companionship, recognition and mostly love.”

In addition to the visionary delight that Landscape of the Soul brings to the viewer, original music has also been composed to accompany the artwork.  Triggered by a motion sensor, every person who passes, will simultaneously listen to one of five music scores, each a minute long. These loop in sequence, stopping and starting as people move past the artwork.  Composed by Graeme Lees and performed by various local artists sponsored by the Cape Town Music Academy, visual and auditory art is celebrated.

How did this installation come about? John Chapman explains that a Request for Proposal was issued to South African artists, stating, “We received and considered many exquisite proposals. Anton Smit had a completely different vision, and he presented his vision for Landscape of the Soul to us with a to-scale model. We were utterly captivated by the idea of an installation that incorporated faces of up to three meters tall, spanning across the entire 33-meter wall.”

Anton’s proposal was spectacular, but it was not something that the CCAF could afford to undertake independently. During their Century City quarterly board meeting, a crowdfunding concept was introduced, where corporations and businesses with an interest in seeing this vision come to life could contribute to funding this dream.

The twelve generous sponsors are Rabie Property Group, Nedbank, Canal Walk, Gimco, Asset Matrix, Securitas, WBHO, Property World, Store-age, Signatura, Century City Property Owners’ Association and Century City Arts Foundation, who all contributed equally to funding the project.  Additional contributions were made by Eagle Lighting, who supplied and installed the lighting, and Cape Town Music Academy for sponsoring the original score to accompany the artwork.

“We are beyond grateful to each sponsor who realised the potential of this visionary and legacy-making installation by Anton Smit,” concludes Chapman. “The effort by Anton and his team is mind-blowing. From making almost 500 masks, to planning and plotting it in his studio in Somerset West and installing it painstakingly in the cold and wind during July, is an exemplary accomplishment and a fantastic achievement.  We are forever humbled that Anton chose Century City for one of his greatest art installations to date.”

Aside from donating 12 art pieces to sponsors to assist the Century City Art Foundation in funding the project, Anton also enlisted the help of Isabel Smit to oversee a separate art project that captures the true spirit of community.

Local children from the Goeie Hoop Child and Youth Care Centre, located near Anton’s studio in Somerset West, were mobilised to paint smaller masks. These smaller masks were exhibited alongside the main “Landscape of the Soul” artwork at the VIP event. These pieces are available for sale, and all proceeds will be donated to the Goeie Hoop Child and Youth Care Centre. Interested parties can contact Century City at info@centurycity.co.za for inquiries.

View the Anton Smit Open Air Exhibition brochure here: https://online.flippingbook.com/view/568699437/

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