The Hanging: Sophie Cape

February 16th 2011

Nothing feels as good as throwing your entire self and everything you stand for into something important and coming out the other side in one piece. What doesn’t feel as good but nonetheless rewarding and invigorating, is having the stamina, determination and passion to put your puzzle back together after cracking into tiny little pieces.

Sophie Cape’s first exhibition, New Works, at Tim Olsen Gallery, reveals eight overpowering pieces that come together to form a therapeutic, ferocious and knowing self-portrait. Spotted by famous Australian artist John Olsen and fresh out of National Art School, the exhibition is made up of Cape’s body of work from her 2010 graduate show. What, however, is mind- boggling, is that each work sold before the show even opened.

Once an elite athlete, Cape uses extreme scale and a harsh mix of materials on canvas and paper, to thrash out her devastating past and the feeling of being cracked into quarters. “Wreckage of the Past,” a very literal title, exposes a physical breakdown. The body appears a morbid mess of splattered black, delicate grey strokes, running browns and directionless lines. Subtle snippets of the human spine hide disconnected within the wreckage. The camouflaged images giving the audience a much needed focal point within such a scene of uncontrollable movement.

Each of Cape’s works, produced while working outside in isolation and fresh air, hang with a soothing violence and indeed, lead the audience through a landscape of decomposing memories, regenerating muscles and energetic emotion. The work “Rupture,” a site of internal demolition has a memorable impact on the eyes. A blast from the right hand bottom corner extends out into futile space while a scream of white paint scratches through each anxious claw. Similar to all the pieces in the exhibition, “Rupture,” in all its layers and texture, comes from a very shadowy yet admiral place. For me it was the body of Cape’s self-portrait, the most potent piece of her newly completed puzzle.

It is pretty much unheard of for a first time exhibitor to sell out before an opening. We can call Sophie Cape a freak of nature, unbelievably lucky or straight up talented. Her works unearth a coarse balance of aggression, intimate struggle and confidence. They have an honesty you don’t frequently come across so make sure you get in to Tim Olsen Gallery before the 27th February to see for yourself.


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