Paloma Varga Weisz will be the subject of an exhibition at Sadie Coles HQ from 8th June to 18th August. The show features the artist’s new series of sculptures in carved limewood which continue her reflection on sculpture presentation and understanding. The plinth is integral to the sculpture – hewn from the same block of wood, in the style of a herm.
These new works glance back to her origins as a woodcarver in Bavaria in the late 1980s, while also reflecting the layered personal iconography – surreal, mythological and Modernist – that she has developed over her thirty-year career.
At the centre of the exhibition is an articulated wooden figure – a life-size version of an artist’s mannequin – suspended acrobatically from ropes. This alludes to the long tradition of drawing from wooden stand-ins or ‘lay figures’, and equally to the surrealist fascination with the doll or shop mannequin as a proxy body. Suspended above the gallery, Varga Weisz’s sculpture appears poised to perform multiple roles – its ball-jointed limbs implying the possibility of altered poses and shifting meanings. In contrast to a traditional artist’s model, featureless and neutered, Varga Weisz’s figure bears the impressions of a ‘real’ identity – it is endowed with male genitals and the rough, vestigial markings of a face. It wavers between the status of an artistic paradigm and a human subject, implying both an awkward prop and an animate body – ensouled and erotic.