The Old Actress

Paloma Varga Weisz

The Old Actress, 2008

The work of Paloma Varga Weisz (b. 1966, Mannheim, Germany) explores themes of memory, mortality, transformation, metamorphosis, the uncanny, 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.

Although trained in woodcarving and known for her sculptural work, drawing occupies an equally important role in the artist’s practice. Using pencil, paper, and paint mixed with water, Varga Weis’s watercolors depict, like her sculptures, imaginary characters resembling surreal bodies from fairy tales. Their gender, action, and placement are usually left ambiguous, insinuating a dream-like setting where anything is possible but nothing certain. Immersed in anonymity and uncanny stillness, The Old Actress, 2008 is stripped from any ties to time and place. It is through the mimetic and resemblance, however, that we connect the depicted character to a reality, which is surprisingly, not that remotely distant from our own.

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 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 and Dance of Death, Kunsthalle Krems, 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.