Sophie Verger’s interview about her work
Where do you find your inspiration?
The creative breath? My parents who had little artistic culture, especially my mother, had a taste for art. At the bottom of the garden from my very early childhood there was a sort of workshop for a sculptor. I climbed on a stone to see through the glass a mysterious world which seemed to me alive. I think I got my fascination for sculpture, a magical and disturbing art, from there. I spent my holidays in Limousin surrounded by nature in a traditional farm surrounded by woods and nature amazed me. I who lived in the Paris region, I discovered there animals “for real”. Then came the museum visits, which fed me. In the workshop I immerse myself in these old emotions.
I look at photos, flip through books, draw until an idea takes shape. In fact, I have a feeling that my hands and my head are going through a process that comes about by itself. There is necessarily a more intellectualized work on the form which must restore the emotion.
Do you sculpt in silence or in music?
In fact, both. There is no rule. There are times when the idea comes, I refocus and I need silence. Other moments of floating, of anguish on the blank page where music can allow me to take the plunge. I can keep in mind an air for a very long time, like a mantra, that of Nicola Piovani, for example linked to the images of the film “Kaos”.
What are you listening to?
The list would be long. I am very sensitive to the voices of women, Morelli, Joan Baez,. I have an old Teresa Stich-Randall record that I give out often. Rather Chopin than rock, though … A little always on the lookout for things to discover, without being a specialist !! However, I hate this outrageous consumption of sounds everywhere and all the time. Listening must remain a magic moment.
Are you very orderly or messy?
I fight against my original bordellism. Raphaël, who comes to assist me, helps me to make the workshop tidier … I often keep looking for the tool .. and it’s a waste of time ….
Do you keep some of your works for yourself or your loved ones?
Yes, of course I sometimes give to very close friends. On the other hand, for me, not really I let go of the works that I would have liked to keep at first, but hey I told myself that they were going to live their life with their buyers and that it was good. I was very attached to “My neighbor or the octopus woman” which was bought by the Berck Museum which I love telling myself that the marine world was good for her !! There is only one slightly atypical work that I will never sell, it is a full-length sculpture by Georges Sand at the bottom of my garden, with which I speak regularly….
Do you work on several sculptures at the same time?
Yes always. This allows me to let it rest and rediscover the work. I’m always afraid to let a just finished sculpture go to molding or baking. Need reinsurance integration time.
Why did you go to animal sculpture? Tired of humankind?
My animals are very human … It is not the subject in sculpture that is important, at least for me, but what we do with it. I don’t feel like an animal because I’m not looking for a detailed anatomical representation of the animal. I have worked a lot on anthropomorphism with reference to antiquity and myths.
The advantage of animals is their anatomical particularities which widen the field of forms which I can play to arouse an emotion and their multiple symbolic values generating ideas. I feel material, form and emotion and the difference between man and animal is small if we exclude the neural faculties of the former which make him a super predator, but also certainly an artist….
Zeus became a bull or swan, polar bears married young girls in Inuit tales and wolves raised small humans. So let’s be pantheists….
Are there animals you don’t want to treat?
I never asked myself the question. So everything remains open. Louise Bourgeois has sculpted spiders well…
Do you have pets at home?
Yes, a very affectionate bastard bitch and a very elegant whippet. Three cats who came to settle too. The koi carp that my grandchildren put in the garden pond make mute calls to me every morning for their meal.
Have you felt an evolution in your work?
First a classic period of nudes and portraits, then a work flowering surrealism but from which I moved away fairly quickly. In 2000, I participated in an exhibition “Sculptures and gardens” organized by the city of Lille on the theme of Africa for which I created my first rhinoceros. I haven’t stopped since. I have set myself for the moment to go towards larger formats. I try to take back my subjects by giving them more life and simplicity. Afterwards, always looking for new ideas. To innovate in continuity in a way.
Sculpture is a long and very demanding process not only artistically but also technically, what is your favorite step?
It’s really the first stage of creation, the establishment of the idea with the earth.
The one you fear?
Finishing. Do not damage my work by wanting to do too much and at the same time disturb reading.
Do you trust your sculpture or are you in perpetual doubt like most artists?
I always have a very critical look at my creation. I sometimes interact with collectors and am touched by what they send back to me. It helps to keep me going. I think that an artist cannot help but doubt because he is alone, without a model in front of his creation. In fact, if God had a little doubt, we might not be in this terrible mess on earth. I’m not God, and I’m trying to apply myself. There are works of which I am sure all the same!
Do you want to try your hand at painting or do you stay focused on your work?
I paint by period but the sculpture takes all my time. I also have to follow up with the foundries, which is an important part of my work. Difficult therefore to divide his time between the two. I would need two lives…
How do you see yourself in 10 years?
The feedback that I have on my work now leaves me to hope that everything is open … In 10 years necessarily with more wrinkles but also around me all the sculptures not yet modeled.
It’s up to me to surprise myself….