Marco Cianfanelli was born in Johannesburg in 1970 and graduated, with a distinction in Fine Art, from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1992. He has had seven solo exhibitions – the most recent being data: process – and has won numerous awards, including the ABSA L’Atelier and Ampersand Fellowship.
Well-known for his bold public art pieces and large-scale sculptural works, he was a member of the design team for The Freedom Park, South Africa’s national monument to freedom, situated in Pretoria. And his monumental fragmented portrait sculpture, Release, was inaugurated to symbolically mark the 50th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s capture at the site in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands. Cianfanelli’s latest public works, of unprecedented scale, have been realized in Abu Dhabi, UAE and he is currently working on projects in Texas, USA and Ede in the Netherlands.
Cianfanelli’s work embodies a vast variety of media and materials. Marrying the application of data to more expressive gestural acts, he aims to set up a tension or dialogue between the controlled accuracies of the digital realm and the uncontrollable realities of being human.
Key to his practice is an attempt to give shape to the convergence of multiple kinds of data, knowledge and experience, asserting the interrelatedness of all things. His work explores social hierarchies and channels of consumption as they relate to aspects of human desire, value, beauty and material relationships.
Collapsing the categories and conventions that sort our experience, he strives to invent forms that bring together thoughts in relation to economics (statistics, values and economies of scale), geography (resources, place and ownership) and emotion (self, psychology and chemistry).
Often concerned with the human form and psyche: in relation to itself, to others, in space, time, action and accumulation, Cianfanelli’s practice involves a complex distillation of initial ideas, expanded upon through intensive research, technical information, translation into digital form and weighed up against prospective media. He works a great deal with repetition, and subtle shift; his accumulated data is calibrated, assessed and digitally rendered; then ultimately reduced to numbers, lines and measurements.
His artworks can be found in public and private collections in South Africa (Sasol, Absa, Diadata, Bloemfontein Art Museum) Europe and the United States (MOMA NY, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art).