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Zoo intime - work by Sophie Favre

20th September till 13th October

Favre is best known for her generously proportioned human and animal figures that embody an ‘animality’ (her word for it) that is emphatically ‘other’ to zoological,  anthropological or anatomical accuracy. Her figures have agency. They are not passive. They do not wait to be viewed. They are thinking. It would not be too much to apply the German word ‘unheimlich’ (uncanny; weird) to describe the atmosphere they create.

Together they make a bristling bestiary, a menagerie, a conclave of conspiring/feeling creatures. There are birds, cats, rats, dogs, and small boys. Some stand or sit on little boxes, some are found peering through windows of simple architectural structures, or sit atop four-legged creatures going somewhere. Some are gathered into gangs or groups. These creatures seem on the verge of saying something, appear to have just heard something, or are in the throes of deep internal monologue. They hold their hands up to their faces, or hold them together in thought, surprise, fear, sadness, grief, anticipation – who knows? Some are clothed. Some wear a hoodie, a garment with a particular socio-political connection. Figures in pairs, be they mammal, fowl, human, or humanoid, invite thoughts that they might be planning or scheming against us. Many are hybrid human-animal figures. They often have noses that would look at home on the benign human face, and eyes that are alive and expressive. Some have teeth exposed as if about to lunge at us, or are trapped in a smirk, a half-smile, shy and demure.These figures are never overwrought, overworked, or hard-won, but appear to be freely and spontaneously made. About this she says: ‘I work quite fast, as I need to hold on to something that has come to me that is in danger of swiftly disappearing, an interior image, like a sketch. When I have captured the idea, I can then take my time, spending hours refining the appearance and the detail. Sometimes, at the end of this I don’t like them anymore, and I break them up, but the best are immediately recognisable.’

André Hess

Exhibition sponsored by The Hargreaves and Ball Trust