Kyalami XIII is a strong example of Stella's extraordinary Circuit series, which the artist began in 1980. Named after international car racing circuits, these works are based on a group of twenty-four drawings and maquettes which the artist made in 1980 and which he began to realize on a large scale the following year. He made two large-scale renditions of each maquette-one in which the completed works are three times larger than the maquettes and one in which they are 4.75 times larger, of which Kyalami is one, and also one series on a smaller scale-1.25 times the size of the maquette. In all, there are 68 reliefs.
In the Circuit series, Stella expanded his artistic vocabularly in two ways: he began to use a Flexicurve, a flexible tool made of metal and rubber that can be bent to provide an infinite variety of smooth curves. He also recovered from his workshop the negative shapes left over from earlier curves which he had cut. The long sinuous curves from the Flexicurve and the irregular, sometimes awkward shapes of the fragmentary elements dramatically altered the compositions that he was able to make.
Kyalami has a rectangular support which contatins the composition, although it is in parts pierced, punctured and carved. Successive layers of sinuous forms add a sense of gesture and motion to the work. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Circuit series is the drama with which Stella paints the metal forms. The variety of application and texture that he is able to produce, particularly evident if a comparison is made between two versions of a given image, is remarkable. He uses wax crayons, transparent glazes and a variety of texturing devices. Stella's three-dimensional paintings achieve a radical atmospheric space and fulfill his hope that abstraction could "find a more robust way to deal with the space around line and plane - our sense of exterior volume; it must also find a more convincing way to deal with the space that line and plane can actually describe - our sense of interior mass" (F. Stella quoted in B. Clearwater, Frank Stella at two thousand; Changing the Rules, North Miami, 2000, p. 17).