Preview of Champagne Life at the Saatchi Gallery

Stephanie Qualye,  Lion Man,  2013, Air-hardening clay, chicken wire and steel. 

Stephanie Qualye, Lion Man, 2013, Air-hardening clay, chicken wire and steel. 

Recently, I have had the pleasure of seeing the preview of the upcoming show ‘Champagne Life’ at the Saatchi Gallery.

Located in Gallery 8, the preview features two sculptures by Artist Stephanie Quayle; Titled Lion Man and Two Cows, the air-hardening clay, chicken wire and steel - made sculptures, take the form of a kneeling man with a lion’s head and two embracing cows respectively. 

The artifice of flesh created using clay evokes a primal emotion, accentuated by the figurative dynamism and anatomical precision which inject a breath of life in the sculptures. As a result the audience becomes tense whilst gazing these life-like sculptures, half-expecting some sort of movement. This effect is derivative from Qualye’s extensive process involving sketching live animal subjects, which imprints a trace of life in the resulting sculptures. The tension established between the object and the audience, allows them to penetrate the physicality of the sculpture and look at it as a living organism moulded by its feelings and emotions. Thus the audience surrender themselves body and soul to the sculpture.

Seeing Ah Paik,  Maitreya , 2013, Pigment, rabbit glue skin, charcoal and cotton calico. 

Seeing Ah Paik, Maitreya, 2013, Pigment, rabbit glue skin, charcoal and cotton calico. 

Standing alongside Qualye’s sculptures, the audience finds the large-scale drawings by Artist Seung Ah Paik. The 4-metre-tall drawings depict oversized nude human body parts, embracing each other in surreal arrangements. The tangibility and carnality of the body become the central components in Ah Paik’s sensual drawings, which also display an element of rawness, being drawn onto the draped cotton calico.         

Stephanie Qualye,  Two Cows  ,  2013, Air-hardening clay, chicken wire and steel. 

Stephanie Qualye, Two Cows2013, Air-hardening clay, chicken wire and steel. 

Exhibiting Quayle’s carnal sculptures beside Ah Paik’s raw bodily drawings makes for an intense room: the limited palette of skin tone colours contributes to the prominence of flesh which engulfs the viewer with a wave of body-heat emitted by the animated works of Qualye and Ah Paik. 

Exiting the room with a rosy face and gasping for air I realised that this experience allowed myself to view the works sincerely and establish a metaphysical relationship with the now living organisms inhabiting Gallery 8.