Siobhán Hapaska – Sunflower (2003/2019)
For DELIRIOUS, the Irish artist Siobhán Hapaska (b. 1963) presented a twometre-high rusty brown metal sculpture with the title of Sunflower. The large, slightly tilted round form on a slim support makes the association with this beloved summer flower immediately obvious.
Hapaska regularly makes use of real plants in her work and of complete trees, usually combined with inorganic materials. She once made an installation of nine charred tree stumps, which she attached to metal supports so that they resembled the nine candles of a Jewish Hanukkah menorah. Hapaska is also known for her installations with olive trees. These trees are important symbols within Islam, Christianity and Judaism. The 7000-year history of the olive tree offers a multitude of possible interpretations for these works.
The cultural allusions cannot be missed, and neither can the references to social issues, but Hapaska’s maginative assemblages, kinetic installations and multi-media sculptures are not explicit political statements and they are never unambiguous either. Hapaska is primarily interested in portraying the complex human emotional state of being. Human beings are constantly in a precarious equilibrium, between various forces and often violent and conflicting ideologies, within which they have to manoeuvre while trying to stand firm.
By combining materials of different kinds – which can range from deerskin to steel gas pipes and from skulls to synthetic yarn, in hard–soft, light–dark, abstract–figurative and organic–synthetic contrasts, she emphasizes these oppositions in the modern world. In many of her works, the tension is almost physically palpable, for example when Hapaska gently dents brightly coloured rounded forms or completely flattens them between dark metal structures. At the same time, she often succeeds in striking a slightly humorous tone. In this way, her works, which demonstrate great skill and precision, not only appeal to our sense of sight, but also activate all of our other senses, so that visitors experience them in a more intuitive, emotional manner.