Clusters of wooden balls bubble over the fingertips and bodies of the children Willy VerginerPoetic sculptures. The Italian artist (before) contrasts realistic carvings of youthful figures with elements of whimsy and imagination. In addition to the shapes that are reminiscent of children’s games, there are thick strips of monochromatic color that wrap around the sculptures and cut them in half in unusual places.
Whether pastel, neutral tone or black, the color is symbolic and is used to convey subtle messages. Verginer’s work often comes from what he sees as the absurdity of ecological problems or larger societal problems, such as the collapse of the US banks. “My greatest effort and research is focused on not tying myself to the naturalistic representation of figures, but rather to give something more through a dreamlike study, or rather through an absurd and not imaginary one,” he says. “This world and the entire connected system were so absurd that I had to reproduce an equally absurd situation.”
Many of the sculptures shown here are part of Verginer’s latest series, Rayuela, that is the Spanish term for hopscotch and the title of Julio Cortázar’s counter-novel that can be read from front to back or vice versa. The book was written in the style of a stream of consciousness and generates different endings and meanings depending on the order of the reader. Cortázar’s adventurous format combined with the fantasy of the game shaped Vreginer’s approach to the series, which the artist explains:
(In Rayuela) children sketch an ideal map on the ground, starting from earth and reaching the sky via intermediate steps marked with numbered squares that they jump onto depending on where a pebble is thrown. I can see a metaphor of life in this game; Our existence is full of these jumps and obstacles. Each of us want to reach some kind of heaven.
In June in Toronto Gallery LeRoyer will have an exhibition of Verginer’s precisely carved works, and the artist has another for September in Zemack Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv. Until then you will find more of his sculptures on Instagram.
Are such stories and artists important to you? To become something Colossal member and support independent art publishers. Join a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art and support ours Interview series, get access to partner discounts and much more. Join now!