An artist “in her place”

Theresa Sapergia’s work explores at once the “extra-discursive” and the classical mythology. Her paintings and drawings evoke private desires that are otherwise kept out of discourse, perhaps considered subversive activities. Since graduating with an MFA from Concordia in 2005, Sapergia has been able to exhibit such works in Toronto, New York, Vancouver and of course, Montreal.

She is represented by Parisian Laundry, a large gallery in St-Henri, where in the past few years she has been included in various group shows. One of those was Beyond Feminism last autumn which also featured art from Kiki Smith and Lesbians on Ecstasy.

As a fine arts student, whether in Vancouver at Emily Carr (where she earned her BFA in 2001) or here at Concordia, Sapergia’s work opens up discussions on power relations in regards to the body. She uses herself as the model, in the belief that ‘Artist’ should not overpower ‘Model.’

In this way, her naked flesh adds to the delicacy and vulnerability that is at the very basis of drawing on paper or a raw canvas. Sapergia’s statement reads as such: “I see the represented body as a site of complex social negotiations, assumptions and exchanges of power. I am interested in that fleshy form that lifts, falls, hovers and searches for its own likeness, a body that desires to find similarity within an image made of marks and dust.”

Indeed, the bodies in Sapergia’s works do not have a ground on which to lie or rest. Her drawings often consist of these seemingly floating entities whose physical form is at times ambivalent. The desired female body might take the shape of a mysterious figure, de facto a mythological one.

Alongside wild animals, you may find the body as an androgynous being, as in her series A Thousand Natural Shocks, a piece created for the opening of the FOFA Gallery last September. You might also come across the Satyr, a dildo-wearing part-animal female. Whether animal and human are merged or separate, the artist assumes this duality as positioning oneself in regards to the piece.

“My work focuses on the figurative depiction of the human/animal in order to describe the instant of relating and empathetic consequence that is inherent to placing oneself within the picture.” A number of those figures will reappear in her newest exhibition at the Parisian Laundry, entitled In the Place I Am Thinking Of.

Sapergia claims her new works “are all drawings on paper. They’re made with a lot of rubbing. They’re like dry paintings.” They convey the same themes discussed earlier of female desire and power relationships, along with negotiation and control and feminist voice.

Certainly, Sapergia’s fearlessness and conviction in voicing a usually hushed, hidden discourse shall continue to define her already impressive body of work.

The vernissage is Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Parisian Laundry, 3550 St. Antoine W.
The exhibit will be held from March 30 to April 28.

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