Rado Kirov was born in 1955 in Bulgaria, where he trained as a coppersmith. He moved to South Africa in 1991 where he pursued a successful career crafting objects in precious metals, including a silver chalice presented to Pope John Paul II by President Nelson Mandela.
A burgeoning interest in sculpture saw him using his superior craft skills to grow and extend his practice. In 2012, drawing on his thorough knowledge of silversmithing, the artist perfected a technique of manipulating sheets of stainless steel by hand. Using the inherent physical properties of the metal, he creates a striking three-dimensional surface that dynamically mirrors its surroundings. These pieces look like quicksilver caught in mid- flow. Kirov refers to this technique as ‘the mercury effect’.
His sculpture consists of wall-mounted reliefs and free-standing sculptures, all fabricated from stainless steel with highly polished surfaces. Some are geometric, some explicitly furniture-like, others are beads and droplets of formless matter; still more are glistening, reflective panels expressive of flowing landscapes. A new development are reliefs that reference the sensuous surfaces of the human body. The various pieces are subtly shaped by hand to yield complex, undulating forms from hard metal.
His art has its foundation in the transformation of base material into something mesmerising. It suggests something that is forever moving and unstable with a material that is hard and fixed. The artist makes distinct the effect of flow. He achieves a molten quality of form and an almost glacial, melting mutability. The visual impact of shimmering metal assimilating and distorting its environment - constantly changing as the viewer moves their viewpoint - speaks of possibility, potential and change. The work is a visual illusion, a tromp l’oeil, where stable forms are forever becoming. These are objects of desire - perpetually shifting, just beyond our grasp.
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