Rodan Kane Hart Interview

Rodan Kane Hart at the Venice Biennale 2017


In August 2016, Rodan Kane Hart  left his native South Africa for Shanghai. The 29 years old artist had been invited by Swatch to become one of the Swiss watch brand’s latest artists in residence, working and living in The Swatch Art Peace Hotel in the city’s historic Bund district. “It was exhilarating and exciting, something that I could discover”, says Rodan Kane Hart  remembering first arriving in the city.” I had never been to Shanghai; I’d never been to China”. Kane Hart set off to explore these new surroundings by foot, searching for inspiration and materials for his work. A graduate of both Wits School of Arts in Johannesburg and Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town, his work to date is multi-disciplinary and includes sculpture, drawings and photography. ‘The experience in Shanghai enabled me to just further explore a number of concepts and materials”, offers Kane Hart. “That way I was exposed to different material. China is obviously a major place for construction and fabrication. I had seen things that I’d never seen anywhere else in the world; I found this very thin stainless steel and I didn’t really know what to do with it  – but I bought it!”.

Rodan Kane Hart at his studio at The Swatch Art Peace Hotel

The art piece Kane Hart created and Shanghai, and which is now on display at international art fair Venice Biennale 2017 displays forty masks made of stainless steel. Polished and mirror-like, the masks have been folded using likenesses of Roman busts, an educational  prop Kane Hart first sourced in Shanghai’s art shops. “I found a series of plaster of replicas of classical Romanesque sculptures”, says Kane Hart of his work’s inspiration. “They were very westernised, it was very difficult to find any Chinese representation. I found that fascinating because obviously I grew up in South Africa – an ex-colonial country – and there is a similar lineage and trace of those kinds of motifs, those kinds of objects, specifically in architecture”.

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