Otto du Plessis is primarily a sculptor, specialising in figurative bronze work. He is the founder of Bronze Age Foundry in Cape Town, which he built into the bronze foundry of choice for many leading local and international artists. Together with designer Charles Haupt, he has fostered a new regard for bronze as a modern material equally suited to furniture, lighting, functional design and sculpture.
Born in Pretoria in 1971, du Plessis attended the prestigious Pretoria Art Music and Ballet School, Pro Arte, where he majored in sculpture with distinction. He apprenticed to a sculptor during his undergraduate studies at Pretoria Technikon (now Tshwane University of Technology), from which he graduated in 1994.
His career began in London as a modeller and sculptor specialising in bespoke plaster reliefs, but soon evolved when he returned to South Africa to establish Bronze Age in 1997. Over 20 years, du Plessis has brought his technical knowledge and aesthetic sensitivity to bear in perfecting the works of fellow artists, as well as numerous commissions. His personal generosity has been integral to providing clients and colleagues with a unique understanding of how to achieve the best possible outcome at every level. He has mentored and trained most of his production team, as well as countless others over the years.
Du Plessis’ self-professed love of figurative sculpture looks to the essential greatness of Rodin’s assemblages, Brancusi, Giacometti and Henry Moore, as well as to Kentridge, Dylan Lewis’ wildlife and the abstraction of Bruce Arnott and Brett Murray’s work.
While his limited-edition functional pieces and collectible design strike an aesthete’s balance, the exploration of beauty in his sculptures is always a vehicle for a deeper engagement with universal themes – at times solemn or macabre, and at others, with the playfulness of an indomitable optimist. Nature presents a rich store of inspiration – in particular birds, wildlife and skeletal forms.
He credits his father for instilling in his children a work ethic and sense of adventure. As a child, he spent four years in Paris and much of his time in nature. For the one-time navy diver charged with missile target recovery, wreck surveys and underwater mine sweeps, the sea remains a second home which he now explores as a free-diver, spear fisherman and surfer.