Teodora Pica – Sculpture
Through minimal etched line and pared-down figurative form, Teodora Pica’s bronze sculptures of women, couples and mother with child (2007-8) convey everyday anecdotes of joy, protection and self-reflection. Embracing, dancing, yawning, mirror gazing, these figures carry a levity that virtuously captures their contentedness in moments of abandon and reflection.
Gestural poses – arms resting on chin or slightly titled head – animate the sculptures’ heavy material and their smooth, still surfaces. Embrace, for instance, depicts a couple lost in a tender moment. This piece exemplifies Pica’s strong sense of line, which is what brings her sculptures to life. Deeply etched lines loosen up the bronze (the male figure has a satin black patina), perhaps suggesting the sculpture could open up into modular sections. Pica’s work, then, is not just about the opaque figures themselves; it is also about what remains unseen.
Pica’s line offers just enough definition to steer the viewer’s imagination to completing images – what Pica says is “a guessing game.” Take for example, Tango Cheek to Cheek, the smallest of the series. The male figure dips the woman. Other than this dance move, Pica differentiates gender simply by making lines straight for the man’s eyes but curved for the woman’s as well as by the man’s slightly larger hands
Historically these two pieces recall Brancusi’s iconic and romantic limestone sculpture, The Kiss – a hinting at Pica’s Romanian heritage. Another influence Pica cites is the black Madonna, who represents among other things, the possible African origins of Mary Magdalene. This allusion is best seen in Mother’s Love, a black patina bronze of a mother so protectively encircling her child she appears impervious to the world outside them.
In light of Mother’s Love, it is worth noting Pica’s two other sculptures of women introspecting. First is So Pretty, an image of a woman during a moment of self-confidence reflecting on her beauty. Comedic irony, however, deflates the potential narcissism of this self-assessment; after all, the woman is too abstractly rendered to be clearly beautiful. The second piece is Golden Yawn, centering on a circular bronze head yawning, a portrait head loosely suggestive of Brancusi’s Sleeping Muse, which peers out from a black body whose hands stretch up. The woman’s pose translated into speech would read, “I am comfortable with myself.” Loose, relaxed line, especially the concentric bands around the woman’s waist, exude relaxed confidence. This small, unnoticed gesture captures a small slice of quotidian experience, which brings down to earth the beaux-arts elitism bronze may hold. Here and throughout her body of sculpture, Teodora Pica celebrates the spontaneity of real life with a lightness of being that exploits the gloriously luminescent surfaces of bronze but transcends that medium’s density and weight. No mean feat.
Earl Miller, May 2009
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