Paloma Varga Weisz

Couple, 2014

Paloma Varga Weisz (b. 1966, Mannheim, Germany) explores themes of memory, mortality, transformation, metamorphosis, and the tragicomic. Art historical and literary resonances pervade her work. Varga Weisz subsumes influences of German folklore, Christian iconography, and Modernist sculpture into a distinctive personal style, characterized both by playful Surrealism and emotional candor. In many of her sculptures and drawings, Varga Weisz depicts imaginary characters resembling Surreal bodies from fairy tales and folklore.

Carved in limewood, the warm surface of which finds its resemblance with the (human) figure, the Couple, 2014 depicts a surreal setting with a 19 century-dressed man and woman gazing at female genitals, placed right in-between two figures. Left in silence, stillness, and anonymity, the only feature suggestive of a link to a specific time and place is their wardrobe, echoing ties to a higher social class and conservative political views. Characteristic for its uncanny quality and ties with Psychoanalyses, namely regarding the fetishization of the female body, Varga Weis depicts the female genitals as the other emphasized here by the estranged looks of both characters. With subtle humor and irony, characteristic of her practice, the ambiguous setting insinuates a dream-like scenery where anything is possible but nothing certain, resonating the forgotten, the suppressed, and the imaginary, which has been concealed, or on the contrary surfaced by the mind.

Major solo exhibitions include Skulpturenhalle, Thomas Schütte Foundation, Holzheim, Germany; Kabinettstück, Fürstenberg Zeitgenössisch, Donaueschingen, Germany (curated by Moritz Wesseler); Glory Hole, Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg, Austria; Root of a Dream, Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy; Krummer Hund, Kabinett für aktuelle Kunst, Bremerhaven, Germany; Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany (with Rosemary Trockel) and Spirits of My Flesh, Chapter, Cardiff, UK, among other. Her works have been included in numerous group shows including Lucas Cranach the Elder, Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Germany; The Human Factor, Hayward Gallery, London; Sculptures from the art academy Düsseldorf since 1945, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany; Exquisite Corpses: Drawing and Disfiguration, Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Folkestone Triennial, UK; Lust for Life & Dance of Death, Kunsthalle Krems, Austria; and the Berlin Biennale. In 2017, a new book documenting Varga Weisz’s exhibition "Root of a Dream" was published by Castello di Rivoli, Turin.