Beasts and Burdens, 2010

Vanessa Paschakarnis. Bêtes et fardeaux / Beasts and Burdens
February 25 to April 30, 2010; Galerie Samuel Lallouz, Montréal PQ

“Il y a une communication occulte entre tout ce qui est proche.”

Eduardo Chillida


I am interested in the “thing” as the conceptual other. My sculptures refer to phenomena and feeling that transpire in the world of the individual. My forms seem familiar, but they rest unknown.
These works are not abstract. They are invented. They are based on my knowledge of form while looking at a rock, a shell or a piece of wood that I work over with wax in a miniscule scale before enlarging it. Translated into a new material they respond to us in our human scale. 
I like to surround a person in an environment for contemplation that fine-tunes ones awareness to distinguish and to reconnect – mineral and animal and human.
My “Domesticated Beasts” are inspired by a recent visit to Greece that revived and confirmed some childhood memories – of intensity of dark blue colour and stark white paint, smell, shapes of islands of clouds, rough seas, rugged landscapes, heat and wind, dust and sun, the human presence through ancient remnants of the spectacular and the vernacular, a heavy silence of the past. I saw an antique sculpture, the head of a lion in a cream coloured marble in the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion, Crete; a fragment, realistically rendered, with missing insets of eyes and nose.

With my group of work entitled “Domesticated Beasts” I want to confront you with a “face”. The soft and fleshy colour of the Portuguese marble reflects on human (Caucasian white) skin. I chose heads of animals that are known to be domesticated. These pieces reflect a closeness to us that is startling and austere. The surface is weathered and worn, yet smooth and delicate to the touch. The relationship of animals to us comes at a price: by domesticating the animal, the pride is taken, the spirit broken – the distancing honour of the wild and unfamiliar. 
The “Domesticated Beasts” are not abstract, they are to be completed, or better not - just like the heavy silence on a Greek island is confirming a connection when it is never uttered loud.
While the “Domesticated Beasts” try to reconnect with us, the “Horned Beings” stay at a distance; in pride they hold the assertive authority of an animal in the wild. 
This body of work goes back for me to a moment of experiencing the awesome nature of the wild, the other, the ancient. The “Horned Beings” are “animals” that carry their weapons, their defense, armour; they are beasts that are not intimidated. Their heads are rocks, their horns are arms, legs, knees, shoulders, snakes, goose heads – they are animated and alive.
The “Bells” are like small bodies; they are skin, texture, sky and ocean. I needed to suspend them because up in the air, parallel to our torso, they breathe and resonate. They sound when handled. They respond to movement in the air and gentle touch: as hollow, amorphous, bent sheets of textured Bronze, they are solidified in motion. 
The “Shield for a Human” rests low on the ground, massive but delicate. It acts for me like a bridge for the other pieces in the gallery. It is a metaphor for the human spirit, the necessity to protect and maintain it. It is armour and defense and reminds us of our self-authority: without self-control and authority we become the wild beast. 
The “Shield of a Human” is a thing in itself, foremost, but it makes us reflect on the ground that we walk on. It could protect us or bury us. It does not belong. It confirms the unfamiliar, like an island in a foreign land that makes us feel eerily at home.
While my work is foremost sincere and soulful, it is meant to be an optimistic confirmation of our presence as living creatures – responsive and alive in the world.

Vanessa Paschakarnis on “Beasts and Burdens”

February 2010

see also: Press Release


List of works in the exhibition:

Horned Beings (Toro), 2009

Marble, Bronze, Wood, 70” x 35” x 35” (178cm x 89cm x 89cm)

Horned Beings (Capricorno), 2009

Marble, Bronze, Wood, 75” x 18” x 39” (190.5cm x 46cm x 99cm)

Horned Beings (Ariete), 2009

Marble, Bronze, Wood, 60” x 33” x 23” (152.4cm x 84cm x 59cm)

Shield for a Human, 2009

Bronze, 10” x 42” x 92”( 25.4cm x 107cm x 234cm)

Domesticated Beasts (Tomcat), 2008

Portuguese Marble, Steel; 14” x 11” x 18.5” (36 x 28 x 47cm)

Domesticated Beasts (Horse), 2008

Portuguese Marble, Steel; (Horse) 22” x 12.5” x 17” (56 x 32 x 43cm)

Domesticated Beasts (Horse with Colors), 2008

Portuguese Marble, Steel; (Horse with Colors) 20” x 14” x 24” (51 x 36 x 61cm)

Blue Echo, 2009

Bronze; 16” x 20” x 20” / 41cm x 51cm x 51cm

Blue Bell, 2008

Bronze; 30” x 19” x 17” / 76cm x 48cm x 44cm

Domesticated Beasts I, 2008 3/7

Intaglio Print; 31.5” x 47.5” (80cm x 120cm)

Domesticated Beasts II, 2008 4/7

Intaglio Print; 31.5” x 47.5” (80cm x 120cm)

Horned Beings, Drawing 1 2008                                                                       

Oil stick on paper; 33” x 43 3/4” / 84cm x 111cm

Horned Beings, Drawing 3, 2008

Pencil and wax crayon on paper; 33” x 44” / 84cm x 112cm

Horned Beings, Drawing 4, 2009

Pencil and wax crayon on paper; 33” x 44” / 84cm x 112cm

Horned Beings, Drawing 5, 2010

Graphite and wax crayon on paper;

41.75” x 59.25” / 106cm x 150.5cm

Shields for Humans, Drawing I, 2000

Graphite on paper, 44” x 80.25” / 112cm x 204cm

Shields for Humans, Drawing V, 2000

Graphite on paper, 48” x 81.75” / 122cm x 208cm

Shadows for Bells, Drawing 1, 2007

Oil stick, graphite on paper;

51.25 x 29.75” / 130cm x 75.5cm

Shadows for Bells, Drawing 2, 2007

Oil stick, graphite on paper;

50.75” x 35.25” / 129cm x 89.6cm

Drawing, Three Beasts, 2009

Pencil on Paper

25.5” x 38.5 / 63.5cm x 98cm 

Blue Moon, 2010 was exhibited at Sculpture Today: New Forces, New Forms; 2011/2012 at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Vanessa with her "Bestia Romana", 2009
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