Paloma Varga Weisz

Untitled, 1995

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. Characteristic for its uncanny quality and ties with the unconscious, Untitled, 1995, depicts what seems to be a kangaroo in an amphitheatre. Stripped of any ties to time and place, the watercolor is charged with symbolism and metaphor, tying this work with the Freudian dream theory. With the head of the animal hidden behind a wall, Varga Weisz resonates references to the unconscious, the forgotten, the suppressed, and the imaginary, that 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.