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. Thousands of visitors to the surrounding hotels, restaurants, and Conference Centre, tourists and locals enjoying boat rides, canoeing and kayaking on the canal, and hundreds of runners at the weekly parkrun, all use The Subway.
“Since the inception of the Century City Arts Trail in 2014, we have commissioned original art across the precinct in unusual places,” says John Chapman, Chairman of the Century City Arts Foundation (CCAF) 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 juxta position of 500 masks, protruding from a 33 metre long wall, three metres high, is an impressive sight to behold in its entirety. But 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.
But how did this installation come about? Chapman explains that a Request for Proposal was issued to all artists who previously created art for Century City, and it was extended to all interested artists. Many exquisite proposals were received and were considered. “However, Anton Smit had a different vision altogether, and with a to-scale model, he presented his vision for Landscape of the Soul to us. We were just blown away by the idea of an installation that incorporated faces of up to three metres tall, spanning across the entire 33 metre wall.”
“Anton’s proposal was spectacular, but not something that the CCAF could afford. At our Century City quarterly board meeting, we put our heads together and came up with a “crowd funding” concept, whereby we would approach corporates and businesses with an interest to see this vision come to life, to assist us in 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 gave equally to fund 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 run a separate art project that captures the true spirit of community.
Local children from the Goeie Hoop Child and Youth Care Centre near Anton’s studio in Somerset West, were mobilised to paint smaller masks, which was exhibited along with the main Landscape of the Soul artwork at the VIP event. These pieces are available for sale and all proceeds will be paid to Goeie Hoop Child and Youth Care Centre. Interested parties can get in touch with Century City in email@example.com for enquiries.
About the Century City Arts Foundation
The Century City Arts Foundation (CCAF), which has Public Benefit Organisation Status, was formed with the aim of making Century City a destination for art. It aims to preserve, foster and communicate the arts in Century City by providing facilities, opportunities, a platform and a forum for both established and aspirant artists across all art genres.
Since its inception, the Century City Arts Foundation has undertaken numerous initiatives, such as art exhibitions, artist showcase events and community involvement projects. There are currently 28 artworks across the Century City precinct that are part of the Century City Art Trail.
View the Art Trail brochure here.
About Anton Smit
Sculptor Anton Smit was born in Boksburg, South Africa, in August 1954.
He entered his first sculpting competition at the age of sixteen, and won the first prize. Completely self-taught, the sculptor was awarded the first prize in the SA Association of Arts’ New Signatures Competition in 1979.
During 1990, international recognition came in the form of exhibitions in Rome and Milan, an invitation to exhibit in New York and Hong Kong as well as a return exhibition in Italy in 1993. More exhibitions followed in Bonn, Washington, Singapore and Koln.
And the rest, as they say is history.
Today, Anton’s work is sought after across the world, and he is currently busy with a few international and national exhibitions.
In 2021, Century City Arts Foundation and Anton collaborated to present 30 of the artist’s impressionable sculptures as an Open Air Exhibition at Century City. This exhibition is still available for viewing and purchase for a further two years.
View the Anton Smit Open Air Exhibition brochure here
Wine for the event sponsored by D’Aria
Catering by Century City Conference Centre
Musicians from Cape Town Music Academy