A cast of characters that range from the betrayed, the tortured, the ecstatic, the seductive, the grotesque, the bestial and the divine will invade Norwich in March with the launch of a series of exhibitions bringing major sculptural work from Brazilian-born artist Ana Maria Pacheco to the city for the first time.
Curated for Norfolk Contemporary Art Society, the exhibitions begin at the Gallery at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) with the showing of an early work. The Banquet is a large polychrome wood sculpture of enormous seated black figures, taller than the standing viewers, which compel them to join in, complicit in completing the circle around the defenceless offering lying on the table. With their sharp teeth and without necks, these are formidable, dark and threatening figures, yet the work has a playfulness and dry sense of humour which reflects on the contradictions that the artist feels about her migration and her mixed cultural background.
The Banquet was completed in 1985, the same year Pacheco moved to Norwich as Head of Fine Art at what was Norwich School of Art (now NUA). She was the first woman to hold such a post in the UK. In 1999 she received the prestigious Ordem do Rio Branco from the Brazilian Government. She received an Honorary Degree from the University of East Anglia and in 2003 was made a Fellow of University College London. From 1997 to 2000 she was Associate Artist at the National Gallery, London (the first sculptor to hold the post), a residency that culminated in a major exhibition of her work that toured on to further venues in the UK. Pacheco was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by NUA in 2002 for her services to Fine Art.
Neil Powell, NUA Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic), says: “We are very pleased to welcome Ana Maria Pacheco back to Norwich, especially as part of the University’s 170th anniversary year celebrations. Our partnership with the city’s other leading cultural institutions has bought a range of fascinating and challenging artwork to the city and we encourage everyone to come and explore it.”
The Gallery at NUA exhibition opens to the public on St Georges Street on Tuesday 17 March and admission is free. The show continues until Saturday 25 April, open 12pm to 5pm (closed Sunday and Monday).
The programme continues with exhibitions at Norwich Castle (in the Norman Keep), Norwich Cathedral (North Transept) and The Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist, all of which open on the same day. Support is provided by the East Anglian Art Fund, Norwich Cathedral Exhibition Fund and Pratt Contemporary.
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