Issuu on Google+

ANA MARIA PACHECO S h a d ow s o f t h e Wa n d e r e r


A N A M A R I A PA C H E C O

In memor y of Bar tolomeu dos Santos


A N A M A R I A PA C H E C O Shadows of the Wanderer

29 October - 23 December 2010 St John’s Church Waterloo Waterloo Road, London SE1 8TY

17 Januar y - 27 May 2011 Studio 3 Gallery, The Jarman Building University of Kent, Canterbur y CT2 7UG


In the Region of Shadows Brendan Prendeville

Ana Maria Pacheco’s sculpture is the opposite of effigy. Unlike a waxwork, which may fool us for an instant before it becomes uncannily lifeless under our gaze, her figures grow inwardly in our imagination over time, acquiring life. To mention effigies at all, however, is to acknowledge that there is some ground here for comparison: Shadows of the Wanderer is typical of Pacheco’s sculpture in being fleshed and clothed with colour, and in bearing facsimile eyes, embedded teeth. Yet here both practice and effect are wholly different from what would apply with the inanimate waxen double of a film star or a politician; we could not possibly mistake the eyes of her anonymous and strangely-propor tioned beings for actual persons, but they genuinely carr y, for us, the sense of seeing, as no waxwork ever can. It is a notable fact that in contemporar y ar t the effigy (cast, moulded, modelled, preser ved, ‘plasticated’) has become vir tually an obligator y mode for representing human beings (and animals) in three dimensions. Most contemporar y figure sculpture is closer to the waxwork than it is to the religious or myth-inspired sculpture of former times, other cultures. In the first case, we may see an uncanny reflection of ourselves, lacking only life; in the second, a thing other to ourselves, reflecting back to us a different aliveness. Ana Maria Pacheco’s sculptures are contemporar y precisely in addressing this modern difficulty in imagining life, which in turn arises from a difficulty (much dwelt on by a ver y different contemporar y ar tist) in imagining death. Imagining death, the burden of mor tality, is what she ventures here. Pacheco has looked to past ar t for help in her present quest. There are Renaissance and Baroque precedents for the inter twining of bodies at the centre of Shadows of the Wanderer, and the polychrome religious sculpture of her native Brazil has often been invoked as a general source of inspiration. Yet it would be a mistake to see her work as a summation of these and other precedents, for it operates strictly in terms that belong to the present. Her technique, for example, is quite untraditional, though in its own terms highly exacting. It is by luring us with the fascination of the worked-upon that the sculptures invite us to come close. Pacheco car ves and abrades the wood into body-like contours, which she then gives a flesh of variegated hue. This she does by blending an emulsion on the surface, working rapidly with (of all implements) cotton buds. She has visited ever y square


centimetre in order that we, in turn, may pay close attention and, in giving our time, impar t duration and life to what we see. What we do see, looking closely and standing back again, is a figure (or figures) whose being is concentrated in a single gesture of the whole body, and given its intensest focus in the face. Notice how often in her work she pulls heads down onto or even a bit below the shoulders, closely binding together the expressive and active regions of the body. We may feel that the Aeneas and Anchises group at the centre of Shadows of the Wanderer speaks to us topically of asylum-seekers. If so, it is only by first giving a bodily life to vision. Light falls most fully on this central pair, in whom the act of looking is most urgent, since it is tied to their predicament and destiny. Fur ther out, as the light dies away, the chorus of onlookers may only witness the central event, moved but unable to assist. Fur ther out still, we ourselves look on, still more shrouded in darkness than the witnesses, cued by their concern. Venturing from his land and shouldering his father, who looks out helplessly above his head, the wanderer must concentrate, tread carefully, learn a new aler tness. All their life is in their gaze: such is the condition Pacheco’s figures aspire to, and would evoke in us.


Shadows of the Wanderer Christopher Reid

In Virgil’s ‘The Aeneid’, Aeneas begins the journey that will end in the founding of Rome by carr ying his lame father Anchises out of the burning city of Troy. The young man burdened by the old makes an image that has appealed vividly both to ar tists and to writers. There is a version of it in a tale from the ‘1001 Nights’, in which Sinbad the Sailor is enslaved by the Old Man of the Sea and must carr y him ever ywhere on his back, until by a trick he can free himself from that relentless grip. More recently, the hero of Saul Bellow’s ‘The Adventures of Augie March’, given his first job by crippled, domineering Mr Einhorn, finds that carr ying his boss from place to place is one of his more exacting duties. Epic ambition and compulsor y wandering seem to belong inextricably to the motif. When Ana Maria Pacheco used it in her 2004 study for Shadow of the Wanderer, the common understanding was that this was a depiction of Aeneas and Anchises, and it may have been so; but Pacheco’s work has the habit of sending out resonances well beyond their nominal literar y or mythic star ting-point. They encourage broader interpretation and a freer imaginative involvement. Take the separate gazes of the two figures in the study. The younger one’s frown is aimed at a spot on the ground only a few feet in front of him, and realistically registers the strain of bearing such a weight – more a matter of inward reflection than of epic far-sight. It is the older figure who seems to be looking into the distance, but with a sor t of wild hopelessness, and possibly through the blindness that is sometimes attributed to the hero’s father. So the gazes are at odds, unresolved. And then there is the title: an insistence not on what lies ahead, but on what is thrown back. The different physical attitudes, rendered by the sculptor with star tling vigour, add to the complexity and poignancy of the piece. Now it is joined by an assembly of individually car ved but much larger figures, and the Shadow in the title has been pluralised. It is fascinating to learn what Pacheco intended by the word ‘study’ in this instance: a means, one comes to see, of generating or projecting a quite different order of sculptural expression; not, however, left behind like a preparator y sketch, but incorporated in the finished ensemble to show the nature of the drama that is now presented in stylised tableau form. For if the ‘study’ derives from the world of epic, these new, towering, dark-shrouded beings, elevated yet higher upon a stage of their own, surely spring from tragic drama. It is characteristic of Pacheco’s boldness as an ar tist, whether in her sculptural or her


pictorial work, to mix genres conventionally kept distinct. Most of her sculpture occupies an area somewhere between theatre and galler y ar t – a frank having-it-both-ways that seems to have scared off the more pure-minded, or priggish, among our ar t-world administrators, so that her masterpieces have not been seen either as widely or as prominently as they deser ve. Nonetheless, betwixt-and-between is where they live and have their being, and much of their vitality is the product of deliberate clashes. In Shadows of the Wanderer, for instance, the figures I have identified as tragedic, and which seem to me to fulfil a role something like that of the Eumenides – or Furies – in Aeschylus’s great play, do not wear masks, as they would have done on the classical stage, but rather display some of the most strongly individualised physiognomies Pacheco has yet car ved. Does this diminish their tragic power? On the contrar y, the effect is to insist that human and tragic are one and the same. The strictures of genre must always, as the brave ar tist knows, yield to the demands of truth. An interpretation of these faces in their dissonant chorus is not something I shall attempt here. Thanks to the combined robustness and delicacy of Pacheco’s car ving, which is fur ther enhanced by the subtlety of surface treatment – a painterliness that represents yet another ar tistic transgression – the emotional complexity of each one defies verbal summar y, and to generalise about their collective impact would be entirely futile. It is up to the lone viewer to negotiate with these Shadows through a contemplation that will be something like reading, something like watching a play, and even something like listening to polyphonic music. Most impor tantly, it will involve a conjuring-up and honest recognition of psychological demons of one’s own.


Brief Biography

1960-64 1965 1966-73 1973-75 1985-89 1997-2000 1999 2000 2002 2003

Born Brazil BA in Sculpture and Music. Postgraduate Course in Music and Education. University Lecturer British Council Scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Ar t, London Head of Fine Ar t, Norwich School of Ar t, Norfolk Associate Ar tist at the National Galler y, London Awarded the Ordem do Rio Branco by the Brazilian Government Honorar y Degree from the University of East Anglia Honorar y Degree from Anglia Polytechnic University Fellow, University College London

Following degrees in both ar t and music, Pacheco taught and lectured for several years at Universities in Brazil before arriving in London in 1973 on a British Council Scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Ar t. Since 1973 she has lived and worked in England. She has dedicated a number of years to education, as Head of Fine Ar t at Norwich School of Ar t and as an external assessor and visiting lecturer to a number of ar t schools in London and throughout the UK. She has also been a member of several educational boards. Pacheco has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad including: National Galler y, London (touring); Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Ar ts; Wolverhampton Ar t Galler y; Glynn Vivian Ar t Galler y, Swansea; Whitwor th Ar t Galler y, Manchester ; Mappin Ar t Galler y, Sheffield; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Hayward Touring (Prints); Wallspace, London; Danfor th Museum of Ar t, Framingham, Massachusetts, USA; Oldham Ar t Galler y; The Gas Hall, Birmingham Museums & Ar t Galler y; Victoria Ar t Galler y, Bath; Brighton Museum & Ar t Galler y; Oslo Kunstforening, Norway; St John’s Catholic Church, Bath; Winchester Cathedral; Worcester Cathedral; Norwich Castle Museum; Pallant House, Chichester ; Trout Galler y, Dickinson College, Pennsylvania, USA; Museum of Modern Ar t, Oxford. Group exhibitions include: Heiliger Sebastian: A Splendid Readiness for Death, Kunsthalle Wien, Austria; Fråvær/Absences, touring exhibition organised by National Touring Exhibitions, Norway; Queen of Sheba: Treasures from Ancient Yemen, British Museum. Public collections include: British Museum; British Council; Ar ts Council; Government Ar t Collection; Tate Galler y; Victoria & Alber t Museum; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Birmingham Museums & Ar t Galler y; Wolverhampton Ar t Galler y; South East Ar ts Collection; Norwich Castle Museum; Cass Sculpture Foundation, Chichester ; Whitwor th Ar t Galler y, Manchester ; Pallant House, Chichester ; Linacre College, University of Oxford; Itaú Cultural, São Paulo, Brazil; Ackland Ar t Museum, Nor th Carolina, USA; New York Public Librar y, USA; Cincinnati Ar t Museum, USA; Sweet Briar College, Virginia, USA; Por tland Ar t Museum, Oregon, USA; Fogg Ar t Museum at Har vard University, USA; Setagaya Ar t Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig, Germany; Trondhjems Kunstforening, Trondheim, Norway; Museum of Contemporar y Ar t, Fredrikstad, Norway.


Shadows of the Wanderer Polychromed wood, 2008 2.5 x 5.5 x 4 m

PRATT CONTEMPORARY © 2010

The Galler y, Ightham, Sevenoaks Kent TN15 9HH, England Telephone + 44 (0)1732 882326 e-mail pca@prattcontemporar yar t.co.uk www.prattcontemporar yar t.co.uk ISBN 978-0-9558266-1-0

Essays Brendan Prendeville: ‘In the Region of Shadows’, 2010 Author and Senior Lecturer in the Depar tment of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London Christopher Reid: ‘Shadows of the Wanderer’, 2008 Poet. This essay was first published by Aldeburgh Music for the 61st Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Ar ts, 2008 www.aldeburgh.co.uk Photography Colin Har vey Acknowledgements With thanks to Revd. Canon Giles Goddard, St John’s Waterloo, Ghislaine Kenyon, Dr. Ben Thomas, University of Kent, Brendan Prendeville, Christopher Reid and Colin Har vey for their invaluable contributions.


ANA MARIA PACHECO: SHADOWS OF THE WANDERER

St John’s Church, Waterloo 29 October - 23 December 2010 This exhibition has been organised as part of the Faith Justice City 2010 initiative, a series of sermons and addresses for Advent taking place at St John’s Waterloo, seeking to create connections between the arts, faith, justice and society. ADDITIONAL EVENTS Friday 12 November and Monday 15 November at 6pm Encountering Sculpture Ghislaine Kenyon, a learning and interpretation specialist, will introduce the work. This event is free. To book, please email gileswgoddard@gmail.com or call 020 7633 9819

Friday 26 November at 10.30 a.m. Ana Maria Pacheco will talk about her work. This event is free. To book, please email gileswgoddard@gmail.com or call 020 7633 9819

Monday 29 November at 7pm Story, Silence and the Present Imagination A wide ranging discussion about the questions raised by the sculpture, Shadows of the Wanderer, between: Karen Armstrong, One of the most provocative, original thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world Ana Maria Pacheco Sculptor, painter and printmaker Xavier Bray Curator, The Sacred Made Real, National Galler y, London, 2009 Chair: Neil MacGregor Director, British Museum £5.00 To book a place, please call 020 7766 1100 or visit www.smitf.org/sjwaterloo

www.stjohnswaterloo.org


www.pr attcontempor ar yar t.co.uk


Shadows of the Wanderer