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SPHINX STUDY #3, 2004
Painted cast polyester resin
35 x 13 x 20 inches
Details of SPHINX STUDY #3 - click to enlarge any image.
Unique cast polyester resin with paint
26 x 17 x 17 inches (pedestal height: 43 inches)
Europe was for centuries fascinated with China and all things Chinese and European craftsmen applied what they believed to be trademark Chinese aesthetics to everything from textiles to dinnerware.
Fitch's interest in the melding of European and Asian decorative arts continues...Viewing Fitch's work is always a little like finding yourself in Alice's Wonderland. There's playfulness and humor in the work, but it's also strange. And it's that edge that keeps it interesting.
- Robin Updike, The Seattle Times, portion of a review from May 1998
Blowing the dust off of the sculptural archetypes of antiquity, Claudia Fitch's new body of work is a modern take on the icons of art history. With references to the enigmatic Sphinx, a peaceful Buddha, and a stoic Greek Kouros figure (seen in the forefront of the image below), Fitch's sculpture is as informed about historical precedent as it is irreverent about placing it in a contemporary context using modern personae and materials.
The artist updates each sculptural tradition using contemporary figural details such as surface painting of facial features while mining the cliches of bad reproductions by suggesting fake stone, fake granite or plastic in her finishes and leaving the mold marks from casting the resin. The most recent show consisted of seven sculptures, cast in polyester resin in various translucent colors. The surfaces were hand painted or flocked with patterns and shapes from the artist's established vocabulary. These colored areas take on a different feeling entirely when painted on a translucent plastic surface as opposed to an opaque ceramic body as in her earlier work. Each piece sat on a columnar steel base designed by the artist. Several were editioned as a multiple of three. She also made two large wall drawings in a wavy, watery pattern of matte or reflective surfaces.
In a work based on the sphinx image, Fitch has created a self-portrait. In it, she is depicted squatting in a sphinx posture - up on her haunches with her hands on the ground, head turned to the side quizzically. But she is wearing a dress and elegant shoes and her hair is curled. This work is cast in bright pink-purple resin while another piece that deals more literally with the sphinx is cast in a light yellow, sand colored resin with red spots and has wings on its back.
Fitch also installed five enormous heads commissioned for the new Seahawks Stadium. These spectacular heads in the form of masks and busts also relate to various art historical archetypes. These works are built of fiberglass with an automobile gloss finish and are painted similarly to the work in our exhibition.