ANNE-SOPHIE MORELLE

Anne-Sophie Morelle's sculptures are human in scale. Whether it be a boy, a girl, a young couple, or an old woman, the atmosphere these sculptures project is classical though their conception is wholly contemporary. This back and forth reading between the archaic and the contemporary builds a tension in these recent sculptures. As inventive scenarios, they are contemporary in conception, yet tinged with a symbolism worthy of George Minne (1866-1941), the Belgian sculptor. Minne’s well known Fountain of the Kneeling Youths has something of Anne-Sophie Morelle’s youthful introspection, a sensitivity to the social side of life that likewise inspired Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel. There is a textural immediacy and abstract gestural spirit in Anne-Sophie Morelle’s surface treatment. These recent sculptures are created using the lost wax technique can have a formal presentational character, butMorelle adds her own creative contextualization to the way she places the bodily form, situates it in space, and situates her sculptures presentationally. Morelle's scuptures capture the figure, with an imaginative ambiguity that borders on androgeny. We can see this in Grace (2003). The undulating surface texture and detail captures light to great effect. Intangible and ambiguous surfaces that look worn by time offer us clues, tell us these are indeed 21st century sculptures. Le Defi (2001), again begins as an archaic study, but then lets the surfaces wear, the textures and material effects take over.

Anne-Sophie Morelle’s sculptures are composed in a simple presentational way. There is a suggestion that these compositions could be part of some more monumental project, emerging as they do as material manifestations of the artist's way of working. The subjects are intimate. The surfaces make them look like ancient works at times, or at least sculptures that reference other places, other times. Some of these sculptures like Le Repos are frozen in time, almost like the figures from the Roman city of Pompeii in the Italian Campania region who were completely buried during the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius over a two day period in August 79 AD.  We have a similar sense with Le retrait (2006), a portrait of aging with a modernist flair. While so much sculpture of our era extemporizes, to express a psychic dimension Anne-Sophie Morelle’s sculpture expresses our physical bodily relation to space which is a not so common approach these days. 

Contemporaneity and the classical meet in the fragment, as is the case the L’homme au baton or Carmen. The erosion of the surfaces, and simplicity of the look of these works, is as much a disguise, and perceptual innovation, as it is a call to awaken some sense of a past.  Resonances and D’un soir, un jour capture couples at a moment of quiet reflection.

There is something classic, and symbolist, to Anne-Sophie Morelle's sculptural intent. And Belgium is a cornerstone of that symbolism, so to see a woman next to a leopard is to situate humans in relation to a mythology, to question our place, our origins and this is truly an interesting area for a sculptor to explore.  The animals are in a symbiotic relation with the peoples in Morelle’s sculptures and these compositions look too silent to be real. They are more eternal quality in that they raise questions about our origins, and place in an increasingly mediatized world. Yet there is no pretense or conceptual bias to Anne-Sophie Morelle’s approach and this is not that common these days. The way Anne-Sophie Morelle builds up and constructs her sculptures is as synthetic as any symbolist painting from the 19th century might have been. The references are now more ambiguous, less captured by the idiom that is their implied narrative. And so these form are caught in an artificial state, yet they have a cadence of the classical but now forms are set in a neutral space.

Since ancient times, sculpture has played a role in furthering the role of art’s social role. 21st century is to extemporize, to express a psychic dimension outside of consciousness, rather than a conscious recognition of that which exists as a continuity over time, or to extend away from ourphysical bodily relation to space in today’s sculpture, Morelle's sculptureinvolves an act of recognition, It is rare for contemporary sculptors to engage the body, to build a relation to our primordial instinctive past, The body become an archaic reflection on our place in the present and likewise for its very unusual classical character becomes a discourse on the language of art in our era.  Anne-Sophie Morelle works, unequivocally, and with a dedication to the craft and technique of sculpture. At her best, Morelle extends the boundaries and language of her sculpture with integrity, further a relevant discourse in sculpture. She does so by challenging and evolving sculptural traditions, projecting these further into an ever evolving future. As intense sculptural portrait studies, Morelle's sculptures do not internalize, nor objectify their subject, but explore a mythology born of the potential meaning or symbolic portent of our inherent place as a society in relation to history. A fabrication of what that history potentially could be – personally and collectively- accompanies the tactile and visual immediacy of Anne-Sophie Morelle’s sculptures.