Like many of the artists that grow up in small towns throughout Italy, Matthias Verginer learned about sculpture the traditional handicraft way, ultimately developing his own style as he got older. For the last decade or so, Verginer has been working on this glorious series of works he calls “ironic sculptures.” The artworks in this series depict bizarre scenes that generally consist of two subjects: an animal and a voluptuous nude woman. He places these female subjects in odd poses and positions that involve some sort of interaction with the wild animal.
In The Invisible, for example, one of his subjects is shown riding an ostrich as if it were a horse, pulling on its reins trying to make it rear. Another piece, Stan and Ollie, shows a similar female figure doing a pike pose a top the head of an elephant. Verginer says that within these strange scenes he hopes to communicate a message that encourages viewers to accept themselves for who they are and make the best of any situation.
Each idea starts with a clay model that flushes out the basic image he wants to create. He then starts to prepare the wood he’s going to use. He carves everything by hand, beginning with larger tools until he’s whittled his way down to sandpaper. He says painting is a very important part of each piece although he never paints the entire sculpture. He likes to leave certain parts blank, “because seeing the wood is important to me,” the artist tells Creators. Both woman and animal are carved separately, as it is technically easier, but Verginer says that every so often he will carve both pieces from the same piece of wood.
Verginer says that he’s always been interested in people and the complex feelings and predicaments everyone experiences. For this reason he says the human figure is always at the center of his sculptures. Throughout his work, Verginer seeks to combat the idyllic image of beauty as it is perpetrated by the media and the advertising world. “Are not all of us, with our rough edges, unique [and] beautiful?” He seeks to create art using the body types you don’t see on TV, showing bigger women looking happy, comfortable, and confident in the nude.
Verginer’s female sculptures are often compared to the Venus of Willendorf, a small figurine made between 28,000 and 25,000 BCE. “But I think the woman in my sculptures are very modern,” he explains. The artist believes his use of body language and movement portrays a more contemporary woman, one that is “self confident and full of energy.”
Check out more works by Matthias Verginer on his website.