Saturday 23 May 2015

In Norwich last month I was lucky enough to spend a day exploring an exhibition in four different venues of the city of extraordinary works by the Brazilian artist Ana Maria Pacheco.

At the Gallery of Norwich University of the Arts is The Banquet - a grotesque, life-size scene ...

 in which four avaricious, gloating men in black are about to feast on a pleading naked figure prone on a table. The host seems to gleefully invite his guests to tuck in, while the figure on the right is already eyeing the buttocks of their defenceless victim. 

In the Cathedral of St John the Baptist is a small but powerful work: the severed head of John the Baptist, powerfully displayed in a spotlit nave behind a wrought iron door.

Pacheco's largest work of the exhibition is in Norwich Cathedral ...

Shadows of the Wanderer is a huge sculpture on a wooden plinth in a transept of the cathedral, below stained glass windows.

A group of black cloaked figures stand as shadows behind a young man carrying his ailing father on his back. The younger and older man are carved from a single tree.

 There are echoes of Greek myth here, but the work has generally been interpreted as portraying the vulnerability and fear of exile, displacement, migration or asylum, and thus has a very contemporary impact.

The faces are haunting: there are lifelike onyx eyes and expressions etched with fear and anxiety. As with her other sculptures, the mouths have real human teeth, embedded in wooden gums.

Her art is unsettling, but full of humanity: there is violence, cruelty, abuse of power and fear, as much as vulnerability, love, and the possibility of transformation.

In the words of Neil McGregor, director of the British Museum:

"The young man at the front ... fleeing from something we cannot see, carries nothing but his father - his past, his identity ... This man literally cannot leave his past behind, but must take it with him. And that young man is about to step off the plinth and be among us. How are we going to react? ... What will we do? Will we behave with justice and with love?"

Norwich, April 2015

1 comment:

  1. Wow, she is able to capture so much emotion in the eyes of her figures. A fascinating display, I will watch out for her work in the future. Great pictures!


Related Posts with Thumbnails