NOVA SCOTIA SCULPTOR Vanessa Paschakarnis abstracts horse and cow heads for powerful sculptures that teeter tantalizingly between the mythic and the everyday.
Her epoxy clay cow’s head with a rusted ring in its nose takes the mind back to the Minotaur snorting in his labyrinth and forward to Nova Scotia county fairs.
The central piece in this exhibit, called Tight Rein, is Horse in Arms, a white marble horse’s head sided by craggy black antlers. It’s inspired by a war monument Paschakarnis saw in Budapest, Hungary, that depicted Huns on horses wearing bridles made of stag horns.
“The domestication here,” she says, “comes full circle for me as the beast is tamed to become a beast in service to the human — Horse in Arms.“
“All the other pieces, also vaguely reminiscent of other animals, bear some sort of impediment.”
While her forms are recognizable they are simplified into planes and lines. Her textured surfaces are scored and nicked. You physically yearn to touch these pieces: the cold, yet soft, white marble of Imagined Polar Bear chiseled into beautiful planes for shadows, the burnished graphite cow’s head, called Trophy, mounted at eye level, even the rigidly folded steel band over the eyes of a rusted-looking head in Blindfold.
Paschakarnis works in marble and the sculpting medium of winterstone, a powder mix of several cements and other materials that can be textured and patinated.
She has a gift for a lyrical and light touch within heavy stone and metal and within a solid concept. These pieces elicit a physical and imaginative response.
Paschakarnis is a German-Canadian sculptor who has a masters degree in fine art, sculpture, from the Art Academy in Berlin and a masters of fine art in fine and media arts from NSCAD University. Her work is featured in private and public collections, including the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the art collection of the federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Scotia Festival of Music.