Nicole Farhi: ‘From the Neck Up’, Bowman Sculpture, 6 Duke Street St James’s, London SW1, until 3rd October 2014.
To many Nicole Farhi is known only as a fashion designer but in fact she has been sculpting for nearly thirty years and was taught by the noted sculptor Sir Eduardo Paolozzi CBE (1924–2005). She has been a full-time sculptor for the last three years and From the Neck Up is her first gallery exhibition.
She has an idiosyncratic style that favours both the abstract works and the twelve busts of people from the world of the arts on view, including Dame Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Helena Bonham Carter; playwright Tom Stoppard; Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue; and artists Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and Eduardo Paolozzi.
Farhi says of her work: “The human face has always greatly interested me. I have a rather good memory for faces, even if in life I have seen them only once or twice as in the case of Freud and Bacon. Most of the time producing a portrait requires a rapport between the artist and the sitter. The true character of the person will come through these repeated sessions.
Usually my sitters will come to the studio to be photographed or I will go to them. I will then start building an armature and after a few hours sculpting in clay the structure of the face will appear or not… Once I have the structure the true character will follow – sometimes days later, weeks, sometimes months.”
It is a very good debut and among the luminaries at the opening were Dame Judi Dench, Leslie Caron, Julian Sands and Farhi’s husband the playwright David Hare.
Not too far away from the gallery at the Economist Plaza, St James’s, will be three of Paolozzi’s sculptures – Suwasa (1966) Kalasan (1973-4) and Trishula (1966) – which are reunited for the first time since the sculptors 70th birthday in 1994.
Originally they formed part of a children’s playground Paolozzi conceived for the Habitat store at Wallingford in Oxfordshire and will be at the Plaza from September 20th.
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