Bumpman on a tree trunk

Paloma Varga Weisz

Bumpman on a tree trunk, 2020

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.

Bumpman is a figure Paloma Varga Weisz has returned to often in her work. She is inspired by the German “Wundergestalten” tradition, early sixteenth century pamphlets depicting extraordinary human anatomies, and the “Schrat,” a spirit of German folklore. Bumpman is a quiet anti-hero. His body appears curious and distorted by organic swellings. His protrusions represent our own insecurities and body dysmorphia. A sculptural visualization of the body’s fragility and these precarious times. He is gentle and unassuming against this backdrop of historical grandeur, resting on his branch, inviting us to join him in quiet contemplation.

Bumpman on a tree trunk was Paloma Varga Weisz’s proposal for the Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth public art commission announced on summer and shown on Trafalgar Square (London) in 2022 and 2024.

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.