The title of Wim Botha’s extraordinary sculpture Fuse (2011) leads viewers towards its darker meaning. As does the fact that the wooden busts of the two lovers united in a kiss are charred black, almost burnt beyond recognition. This sculpture, a highlight of the Strauss & Co March 5 auction in Cape Town, presents a number of interesting statements about romantic unions. For starters, the "fire" that ignites a passion can easily destroy the duo if it burns too brightly or gets out of control. Or perhaps Botha’s striking bust, which presents a macabre twist on a tradition in sculpture, points to the death of people’s "romance" with traditional representations of love. Presented through an outdated art mode — no one makes busts anymore — the fleeting moment of the kiss, associated with the conclusion of a Hollywood romcom, appears to be a remnant from a bygone era. This romantic artifact has been torched. By whom? Rebels, disbelievers, a new society in the making? Botha is right; the ...

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