Sophie Dickens

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Ilaria Specos
Mail: ilaria.specos@sculpture-network.org
Phone: +49 89 51689793 

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Statement

Sophie Dickens has been showing with Sladmore Contemporary for nearly 10 years. In that time she has established herself as one of our core “stable” of

sculptors and helped move our profile away from the pure Animalier to a more modern and interesting place.

Creating her sculptures using a construction process where she applies cut sections of wood to a welded steel armature and fills in the gaps with epoxy and resin before casting into bronze. Her understanding of form and volume, and her unusual surface of hard-edge planes and use of negative space , combine to achieve a wholly original and convincing result. Powerful and moving with a healthy dose of wit. As a recent critic observed

“The fluency and dynamism of Dickens oeuvre belies a fundamental appreciation not only in the aesthetic of living beings, but an ebullient joy regarding shape itself“.

Already popular for her series pieces, such as the cart- wheeling men and weightlifters, for this exhibition Sophie has created an astounding troop of Monkeys, currently clambering up the front of the gallery, and an installation of thirteen rats, who are running around my office, and hanging off the edge of my desk as I write this introduction. I am afraid the Sladmore influence has induced her to move further and further into the natural world, but I offer no apologies, as the results are so remarkable, and popular, with pieces installed in homes and gardens all over the world, her continuing success seems assured.

 

 

Gerry Farrell 2014

 

THE SPACE BETWEEN US    

 

 

Sophie Dicken’s series of black and sepia drawings exploring the spatial and psychological relationship between interactive figures represent a pivotal moment in her career.  As an artist equally at home with figurative and abstract sculpture, she moves fluently between assemblages of wooden elements that are often cast in bronze and potent outline and wash drawings on paper. These drawings exist in their own right as autonomous artworks but might also influence future sculptures. They are at the forefront of a new phase of development.

 

 Figuration, that is representations of human figures and creatures from the living world, has continued to be problematic for even twenty-first century artists since the early Modernists swept it away in the delirious experimentations of the turn of the twentieth century.  For many artists and collectors today, especially those who have chosen a path that questions or rejects the primacy of Marcel Duchamp’s once anarchic conceptualism or the cultural profundity of Pop Art, the long shadow of abstract sculptors from Jean Arp and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy to Sol Lewitt, Donald Judd and Carl Andre has endorsed an aesthetic of formal ‘purity’ that requires to be ‘uncontaminated’ by reference to the human condition.  Such Utopian abstraction, however, is only one connecting line between modernist pioneers and twenty-first century practice.  Alongside it exists that other, equally significant pathway, that of sculptors Constantin Brancusi and Henry Moore, or painters Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso who move freely between two and three-dimensional expression. These artists maintain the human subject as the significant core of their practice, allowing the rigors of geometry to create an infrastructure that modifies and strengthens their experiments with bodily forms. Brancusi, for example, carved human features as low curved relief planes just lifting out of pure ovoid shapes, while Matisse simplified his figures into either fluent contour curves or cutout silhouettes emphasizing the elasticity of the human body.  Sophie works within this tradition, generalizing her slightly elongated but muscular human figures into planar or flowing forms who are certainly not recognizable individuals – their small heads contain no facial features – but are unmistakeably gendered, and engaged in a huge range of interactions:  dancing, wrestling, fighting, kissing, banging their heads together, in step and out of step.  Hers is very much a contemporary project, but one rooted in knowledge of the universalizing values of classicism through her background in art history.  The simplicities of the male figure, for example, suggest the hard geometrical outlines and broad-shouldered proportions of an archaic Greek kouros.  And the spaces between couples as defined in her drawings relate to those of her more abstract sculptural assemblages where she shifts abstract forms into strange and unexpected relationships, sundered apart or re-united.

 

Sophie started this series of square drawings on thick, heavy Bockingford paper during a period when her husband was away for a period of two months pursuing his career as a singer in Australia.  This enforced separation led her to start thinking about marital relationships and the notion of ‘the space between’ as both the physical space of separation and the metaphorical divisions between partners or generally between men and women. Initially the drawings explored and gave visual form to her own affection, loneliness and longing annoyance (?) at his absence but an extension into a more generic project was inevitable.

 

 Line drawings almost always belong to seriality. That is to say, the condition of ‘connectivity’ of lines, whether enwrapping contours or abstract scribbles, means that drawings fluently extend themselves. A single line continues to lengthen as long as the hand holding the drawing implement – a pencil or a brush soaked in wash – is not raised from the paper support to end its passage and begin another sequence of movements and interruptions. What cannot be completed or initiated on one piece of paper, suggests the next in a related series. To the extent that drawing is visual thinking, one idea inevitably leads to another. Subject-matter extends itself and grows into themes that demand to be explored.  In this sense, Sophie’s project of 24 drawings (??correct?) grew naturally, one drawing leading to another. It was fed by those everyday activities and visual images that stimulate artists often in inchoate and invisible ways.  For example, a much-hyped story in the British media about a celebrity break-up and extremely public divorce found formal expression in series of fighting couples. In one drawing the male figure is brutally twisting the nose of his partner, in others an exaggerated dark red arm moves out aggressively towards the shrinking female. On another sheet she retaliates bravely and seizes him by the neck. Sophie’s sculptures, in line with contemporary beliefs are never on pedestals but stand on the ground, or, in the case of her witty animal series, run up corners and angles of real architectural space.  By contrast in some of these satirical drawings, the male figures stands on a pedestal or a turn-table, playing God to his accommodating or warring female partner.

 

 In each drawing the couples are united by the quality of the thick, confident pencil contour but the female figure is often differentiated from her darker mate by a paler sepia/pink wash. The spaces between the pair are defined by a heavy black or contrasting sepia infill that transforms the ‘negative’ space into a vibrant topography of unification or separation.  Occasionally the thick paper support is attacked, torn or cut, with collaged elements that recall the processes of Sophie’s sculptures, where deliberately sawn pieces of wood or rougher found elements are glued together to form new unities. Each drawing is a complete work, but all of them together form a fascinating narrative that is sometimes humorous, sometimes tender and sometimes about anger and rejection. The series begins with two sepia figures turning their backs on each other, separated by a symbolically dark and widening wedge of alienation. In the final drawing two grey-washed figures turn their backs on the spectator and waltz off into a warm sepia-red future, hand in hand.  

 

 

Deanna Petherbridge

 

A casual but frequent visitor happening in at Sophie Dickens'studio: the Dulux dog barks; Sophie herself is muffled against the cold, her glasses glint. All the acrobats have now been replaced with pelicans, first the bare but exact armatures, then, in a few weeks, suddenly Pelicans ."It's so cold the paint won't dry on them"  Sculpture is a hard profession.

 

But Sophie Dickens is on a roll. Her "Evangelists" are travelling slowly from one splendid building to another..Southwark Cathedral, St. George's Bloomsbury, showing their affinity with each new building ...they would look splendid in the city. Other large-scale groups

figures are let loose on Moscow,  projected on Hong Kong, gambolling in the grounds of Woburn Abbey. The new Pelicans (I am looking over Sophie's shoulder at them) have an authority about the wood-cutting, done on an industrial band-saw; the neck of the nearest one curves up in a figure of 8 with an abstracted eye and then plunges its beak directly down into the centre if its back. Elegant, effortless sculptural

sensibility, they call to mind Pevesner,  Vorticism,  Gaudier-Brzeska, early John Skeaping. Two honest decades of making , making , making  have rewarded Dickens well,  with a singular and authorative style which is now beginning to receive its deserved recognition.

 

If there is a contemporary artist I also call to mind it is Markus Lupertz, and I forsee and ordain that Sophie Dickens will be more and more invited into the mainstream art forum,  for so long been

overly dominated with ironic, skimpy art, leaving a generation of young artists without any robust role-model who combines all the honest virtues of hard-won forms, and timeless interest.

 

Joanna Price

 

Artist. February 2012

Vita

SOPHIE DICKENS

 

1984-7                        Courtauld Institute, University of London

1989 -91                        Sir John Cass School of Art, London

1991                        Department of Anatomy, University College, London

 

EXHIBITIONS

 

2001                        Vertigo Gallery, London

2003                        McHardy Sculpture Company, London

2004                        Stella von Boch, London

2006                        Stella von Boch, Wiesbaden and London

2007                        Sladmore Gallery, London

2008                        Galerie Cymaise, Paris

2009                        Stella von Boch, Wiesbaden

2010                        Sladmore Gallery, London

2011                        Millinery Works, London

                        Southwark Cathedral

2012                        Sladmore Gallery, London

                        Ashmolean Museum, Oxford – group show

                        Victoria Gallery, Bath – group show

                        Gloucester Cathedral

2013                        Graham, New York

                        ‘Landscape’ – group show Millinery Works, London

                        Big Deal – group show Cavendish Square underground car park

2014                         Chinese Open – group show Chinatown, London

                        Sladmore Gallery, London

                        De Re Gallery, Los Angeles

                        Artist in residence, British Wrestling Association

2015                         Chinese Open – group show, Chinatown, London

2016                        Be Mine! – Valentine’s exhibition, Sladmore Contemporary

                        Conrad Hotel, Faro, Portugal with Art Catto           

                       

 

COMMISSIONS

 

2004                The Way the Land Lies – installation at Burghley House

                        Leapfrog - Cumberland Hotel, London

                        Adam and Eve – The Old Zoo, Lancashire

2005                Stag – Brockhall Village, Lancashire

                        Walking the Dog - RBS Centenary Exhibition, Leicester Botanic                                     Gardens

                        “If you believe in me…” Unicorn Children’s Theatre, London

2007                        Mother and Child – John Lewis, Cambridge

                        Turning Man – Worshipful Company of Founders

2008                        Diana and Hounds – private client

2009                        Francis Cator Memorial weather vane, Norfolk

                               Minotaur – private client, San Francisco

                               Cartwheel – Woburn Abbey

2010                        2012 Olympic judo sculpture – ArtattheEdge

2011                        Large Cartwheel – Moscow

2012                        Football, Soccer, Sprint, Ice Hockey - NBC sports news,                                              Connecticut

                               Bird I – Panasonic

2013                        Bull – Heston Blumenthall

                               Diver – Connaught Hotel, London

2014                       Minotaur Medal - British Museum, London

                              Variable Landscape – collection Sir Michael Hopkins

                              Monkey installation - Sladmore Contemporary

2015                      Horse – Grand Palace Hotel, Manchester

                             Ink of the Scholar – medal for the British Art Medal Society

                             Abstract in response to National Theatre – Buro Four            

2016                     Dive – Benyon Memorial Garden, Royal Berkshire Hospital

                            River Gods – private client. Texas

2017                       Pool Boys - private client, Germany

 

                      

 

 

      

Preise

PRIZES

 

1991                        Owen-Rowley Sculpture Prize, John Cass School of Art

2007                        The Sculpture Prize at the Victoria and Albert Museum – Inspired                                  by the Human Form – The Founders’ Award

Publikationen

PUBLICATIONS

 

2015                        The Space between Us – book of drawings      

Ich arbeite mit

  • Bronze
  • Installation
  • Metall
  • Gips
  • Public Art
  • Holz

Einzelausstellungen

2001                        Vertigo Gallery, London

2003                        McHardy Sculpture Company, London

2004                        Stella von Boch, London

2006                        Stella von Boch, Wiesbaden and London

2007                        Sladmore Gallery, London

2008                        Galerie Cymaise, Paris

2009                        Stella von Boch, Wiesbaden

2010                        Sladmore Gallery, London

2011                        Millinery Works, London

              Southwark Cathedral

2012                        Sladmore Gallery, London

                    Gloucester Cathedral

2013                        Graham, New York

2014                        Sladmore Gallery, London

2016                        Be Mine, Sladmore Contemporary

Gruppenausstellungen

2012                 Ashmolean Museum, Oxford – group show

                        Victoria Gallery, Bath – group show

2013                ‘Landscape’ – group show Millinery Works, London

                        Big Deal – group show Cavendish Square underground car park

2014                Chinese Open – group show Chinatown, London

                        De Re Gallery, Los Angeles

2015                 Buro Four, National Theatre

2016                 Art Catto,  Conrad Hotel, Algarve, Portugal

2017                London Art Fair

Venice Biennale, with GAA Foundation, Palazzo Bembo

Sophie Dickens

Vorname

Sophie

Nachname

Dickens

Kategorie

Künstlerin

Straße

Corso Giuseppe Mazzini 25

PLZ

18026

Ort

Imperia

Land

Italien

Telefon

00 44 +7960223371

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