Wax sculpture

[NSFW] Eerily Lifelike Sculptures Cast Sex and Death Anxieties in Wax

Sigrid Sarda is a painter turned wax sculptor whose realistic human figure express her anxiety about the world.

by Andrew Salomone
Apr 29 2017, 12:10pm

After an emotionally traumatic experience, Sigrid Sarda stopped painting and reformed herself as a wax sculptor. Using wax and found objects, Sarda often creates dystopian scenes featuring lifelike figures that express her anxieties about the world. "Interested in fundamental human needs and universal emotion, I question personal identity, the roles of men and women, and sex-as-provocateur. Coupling today's culturally accepted values and norms I borrow from fables, allegories, fairy tales and news of the day to create nightmarish vignettes of my own personal malaise," Sarda tells Creators.

A self-taught artist, Sarda learned to paint by studying the works on museum walls. But after her father's death, she stopped painting and became interested in ceroplastics, or the art of wax modeling. Sarda points out that this shift is significant because wax modeling is historically related to death. "Grappling with the paradoxical organic nature of wax, a medium employed to immortalize one's existence as the effigy, I create figures that at once defy yet accept death.The treatment of flesh and skin, whether in earlier paintings or in the waxworks, likewise holds fascination for me. Concentrating on the properties of wax while steering away from the trappings of theatrical props, I force the viewer to interact [with] the visual surface, eliciting responses ranging from fascination to repulsion," she explains.

A work in progress

When Sarda talks about the interaction between her work and the viewer, she is referring to the expectations that she creates by using wax to produce realistic depictions of human body parts. "Skin is seen and felt as something living and sensual. It perspires and is wet, it can smell and [be] transformed into another identity when covered with makeup or adornment. Even when riddled with disease the grotesquerie holds our gaze. It is a compelling visual impression," says Sarda.

The contrast between the lifelike appearance of Sarda's work and the reality of what it is—whether the idealized appearance of someone living, or a commemoration of someone who has died—is a theme that she calls "the effigy and the doll." Sarda endeavors to illustrate the distance between these perceptions to help keep us grounded. "The further we move from the reality of death the more removed we become from ourselves," says Sarda. 

Sigrid Sarda is currently in the process of working on a large-scale installation, and participating in an ongoing residency at The Gordon Museum of Pathology in London. You can keep an eye on her progress on Instagram.

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