Paloma Varga Weisz

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4 out of 5 stars
Father, Old.jpg
© the artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London 'Father, old', 2010, by Paloma Varga Weisz

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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Mother is asleep, perhaps dead, and a monster is on the loose. No wonder father is hiding. You'll find him, or his head at least, in a crumpled cylinder that, as you approach, resembles a tree stump or an elephant's foot but, gazing downwards, reads as a kind of cowl. Like all the sculptures in this show, hewn from clay, fired and glazed in an array of muted colours by the German artist Paloma Varga Weisz, 'Father' seems caught between states – consciousness and unconsciousness, life and death.

He appears again as 'Father, Young' and 'Father, Old', the first given a youthful (platinum-plated) flush, the second covered with a lichen-like patina. Both, in a sense, are death masks, a comment on the sculptor's god-like attempts to halt time. The sculptural object as frozen moment becomes humorous in the zombie-like 'Monster', mired on a tabletop, and in the suggestive 'Volcano' that invites you to gaze into its fiery depths only to reveal the grey floor beneath. Elsewhere a more psychologically-charged atmosphere permeates, notably in the downstairs gallery where 'Mother' lies on her (death?) bed, the surrounding walls covered with nursery rhyme motifs engulfed by black clouds of paint.

This is a rich form of brinksmanship. Never quite allowing the work to fix in the mind or its associations to settle, Varga Weisz invites the viewer to make circuits of her installation, the strands of her art – personal, folkloric and universal – still looping together long after you've left the gallery.

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