57. PHILLIP PIPERIDES
Cypriot-born sculptor Phillip Piperides describes his practice with a succinctness which belies the inspiration, craftsmanship and sheer toil required to create works such as Sensuous Nude 2003.
‘I have forever been intrigued with the human form. More than naturalistic representations, my work is about capturing moments which occupy a space in time.’1
As a teenager living in suburban Brisbane, Piperides began experimenting with clay moulds under the guidance of his father who was a commercial potter. After studying initially with the Russian-born sculptor, George Virine, Piperides travelled to Greece and then Pietrasanta in Northern Tuscany to hone his skills in the distinct, but equally demanding disciplines of sculpting and casting. In recognition of his achievements with both bronze and clay, Piperides was awarded the Churchill Fellowship for sculpture in 1990 and travelled to Canada, the U.S.A. and England to further his knowledge and appreciation of monumental castings.
Though Piperides is both renowned and revered for his life-sized interpretations of sylphlike nudes created and editioned in bronze, the current sculpture is entirely unique. Carved from marble sourced at the famed quarries of Carrara, Italy, Sensuous Nude is the finest example of just a handful of works which the artist has created in this exquisite, but costly and unforgiving medium.
Phillip Piperides’ body of work owes much to the tradition of classical European sculpture, indeed, the present example was inspired by Auguste Rodin’s (1840-1917) Danaïd which was cast in bronze in 1889 and carved in white marble by Jean Escoula (1851-1911) the following year. Danaïd references the mythological narrative of the daughters of Danaos, who were made to fill a bottomless barrel with water as punishment for killing their husbands on their wedding night. Purchased initially by the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris, this sublime marble is now housed in the permanent collection of the Musée Rodin.
Though his subject choice is less dramatic, Piperides, like Rodin, seeks to construct a feminine landscape by highlighting the curves and undulations in the neck, shoulders, décolletage, mid-section and lower torso of the model. Piperides’ enduring motivation, much like that of Rodin and the Impressionist painters of his era, is to capture moments in time which strike a resonance with the viewer and invoke a profound emotional response. The unique marble carving, Sensuous Nude, achieves all of this with aplomb – presenting collectors with the opportunity to acquire an irreplaceable object which represents the confluence of the best in Australian and European sculptural tradition.
1. Piperides, P., quoted in www.antheapolsonart.com.au/exhibition-media-release.php?exhibitionID=25&..., accessed 20 August, 2015