Artist Paloma Varga Weisz began her formal artistic training studying traditional woodcarving in the Bavarian Alps – a place home to its fair share of fairy tale castles and ancient forests. She then went on to receive a more classical education in Fine Art at the Düsseldorf Academy, yet the spell of European folklore, childhood memory, pastoral magic and the uncanny seems never to have left her practice.
Marking her first solo exhibition in England, the Henry Moore Institute reopens with a large display of Varga Weisz’s wood carved and ceramic sculptures, as well as over 40 drawings and watercolours, spanning the past 20 years of her career. The strange creatures – often half human, half animal – that her work depicts are drawn from an inner cosmos of references, both fantastical and autobiographical, combined with her interest in art history, particularly the work of Italian and German Renaissance painters Piero della Francesca and Cranach the Elder and the surrealists. An androgynous, in-between state prevails across her output, serving as a challenge to conventional ideas of identity, societal ‘norms’ and historic stereotyping that counteracts any hint of nostalgia and gives her work a deeply contemporary relevance.
Bumped Body continues a strand in the Henry Moore Institute’s programme of exhibitions that presents important sculptors of today whose work is yet to have full exposure in the UK. As such, it forms a valuable introduction to the work of this fascinating German artist, whose enigmatic style cannot neatly be defined.