artist / participant
The Castello di Rivoli is delighted to present Root of a Dream, the first solo exhibition in an Italian museum by German artist Paloma Varga Weisz. Born in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in 1966, she lives and works in Düsseldorf.
Based on a poem by Paul Celan, Root of a Dream reveals Varga Weisz's constant attention to the relationship between memory, erasure, and the re-surfacing of recollections. In her works, these elements combine into an expression of painful and fragmented being, where the body is parceled, identity becomes disguise, and memory becomes intermittent. In the exhibition, we find a reference to the artist's father in a silent film titled Deux artists. This early work, and its theme of identity and origins, holds one of the keys to interpreting the sequence of works on display, which Varga Weisz closes with her most recent creation, Lying man (2014) (first exhibited last year at the Hayward Gallery, London, as part of The Human Factor). This sculpture amounts to a conclusive reflection on the nature of being—divided, missing, stateless—an existential human condition that is more relevant than ever in the drama of mass exoduses.
By means of a distinctive iconography that combines references to Italian and German Renaissance art, psychoanalysis, private recollections, and an underlying fascination with the human (especially female) body, this artist creates complex and poetic installations that lead the spectator into a contemplative mode of viewing, poised between dream and reality. Her particular use of archaic techniques—including wood inlay, polychromy and ceramics—acquires an autobiographical component through the intertwining of generic symbolism and personal narrative. While they are rooted in allusions to personal episodes, Varga Weisz's works—imbued with references to Renaissance painting and sculpture, as well as artisanal and folk traditions—also bear the memory of a shared and collective European sensibility that can narrate the most intimate levels of existence.
The show unfolds across the magnificent halls of the Castello di Rivoli, establishing a dialogue between multiple works. Like intermittent memories proceeding in a succession of intimacy and silence, these works confront ideas such as abandonment, trauma, memory, birth and love, all while celebrating the grand theme of the lives of men and women.
Composed of a vast selection of works, from early pieces to more recent ones, this exhibition presents a series of important installations, some of which are large format and on loan from prestigious collections in Europe.