Clare Stephenson’s sculptures are barely sculptures at all; their physical presence is a humorously humble illusion. Made from silkscreen on wooden panels, her prop-like cut-outs stand in as representations of form: completely flat-packed, cartoon-like, and slap-stick. This game of perception, of subverting material with image and vice versa, is redoubled in her work’s development process: each sculpture-image is assembled from photographs of other sculptures that have been cropped and photocopied from books. La Belle Toute Savante presents a camp model of sophistication. With a pilfered coiffure as a stole and twisted arm borrowed from ’wardrobe’, she is self-consciously dressed up in the costume of art history.
Comprising a composite image and its double, Stephenson’s Ornament & Boredom suggests an underlying discontent beneath the harmonious surface of serial production. This androgynous figure combines the glamour of Warhol’s Pop portraits with the excess and distortions of Baroque sculptural form, becoming a complex hybrid.
Precariously balanced on pointy-stepped tip toe, Our Lady of the Conscious Optics embodies a fashion of aesthetics. The figure, a compilation of enlarged and recycled images, resonates with the ghost-like presence of parlour tricks, an apparition of plywood and the transient inscription of printer’s ink. Rejecting its own physical existence, Stephenson’s piece resolves as a sculptural facsimile: conveying form as a sketchy construct of perception.