When I began the Sins and Virtues sculpture series, I decided to use Chacma baboons to narrate the stories. The animals have expressive faces that can sometimes seem quite lascivious; opposable thumbs that can balance stemware; and, perhaps most importantly, their provenance in porcelain is from MEISSEN’s famous Monkey Orchestra. It does also help that they look wonderful in those 18th c. wide-brimmed, feathered hats. I especially enjoy humorous fables and other narratives that center animals as primary actors in scenes that are, as the viewers know, actually about humans.
The work of German sculptor Johann Joachim Kändler (1706-1775) inspired me to make this series. While visiting both the MEISSEN Porcelain Manufactory and the Dresden Porcelain Collection, I fell in love with both the large and table-sized porcelain animals. These tabletop sculptures leveled up the figurines once made of sugar to entertain guests and stimulate dining conversation.
Each of my sculptures is one-of-a-kind and hand-modeled. I roughly sculpt out my figure from a sketch and then deconstruct the limbs. I refine the details, hollow out each piece and reassemble the sculpture prior to a 32-hour firing. Through the development of fine details, the individual personality of each animal and each artwork reveals itself.
After seeing Rembrandt, Franz Hals, and other Dutch masters at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I painted a painted body of work that compliments and contextualizes my sculptures and can also stand alone.
~ Tricia Zimic