Belgian artist Nadia Naveau (1975, Bruges, lives and works in Antwerp and Saint-Bonnet-Tronçais) is best known for her figurative sculptures.

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Description

Bunnykins Square I…” shows in various ways the time lapse in our viewing of images. Ignited by the frescoes of Goya, sketchy touches wander freely in strong compositions. As if to sharpen all instruments of perception, Naveau’s forms defy our expectation of scale and perspective.  Small found drawings are blown up and made three-dimensional in a disruption of spatiality and representation. The same happens in the reflective surfaces, the bas-reliefs and in a sculpture that turns on its own axis. It seems as if Oskar Schlemmer gently breathes on in Naveau’s stylized, partly geometric figures and in the play of theatrical dimension. Although the pedestal is often the setting for a sculpture, Nadia elevates it from a support to a part of the work. With ‘Bunnykins Square I‘ she takes this even further, with an arrangement that shapes its own background. A small arena of colour touches merges play and measured precision, and in yet another way makes the construction of a sculpture tangible.

The typically seductive, surprising sculptures are the result of a balanced play with colors, shapes, scales and various materials such as plaster, ceramics, bronze, plasticine and polyester. Naveau’s sculptures reveal a certain postmodern twist because of their eclecticism. The process of “recycling” and attention to presentation is typical of the practice of Naveau, who likes to explore the boundaries of sculpture and continually questions the autonomy and status of a sculpture. Equally special is the associative character typical for her sculptures. All her sculptures, no matter how large or how small, are hand-sculpted from large, rough blocks of clay. The clay sculpture is molded to be casted into the final material. The initial, tactile act of sculpting is often intuitive. Usually a coincidental shape in the clay initiates a certain association that leads to new forms and ultimately gives birth to the final sculpture. Naveau sees coincidences or failures as potential. Naveau: “It happens in the clay. The clay imposes its own conditions. At some point, there is no longer a dispute with the “thing” in progress. It shows itself in a short moment of sudden understanding.” The sculptures contain multiple references that introduce substantive and formal stratification. As such, they are often described as three-dimensional collages. The references inspiring Naveau are difficult to define. She is fascinated by the images that surround her – no matter how banal, important or art-historical the reference may be. Popular children’s heroes such as Goofy have the same weight in Naveau’s universe as Mexican masks and images of classical or modern masters such as Bernini and Brancuși. The visually engaging sculptures require time to be viewed, under- stood and, above all, absorbed; they are an antithesis to the fast, digital image consumption of the 21st century. Recognizable and familiar images are distorted, stylized and shaped intuitively. Each of the sculptures bears witness to a search for renewal, but also to the pleasure and the boundless freedom of sculpting. Naveau’s work has many layers. The images are narrative but never completely readable. They are exuberant, yet can be subdued and still. They are baroque but also classical and often as much stylized as freely sculpted. Her work is about beauty but also about ugliness and good taste. A sculpture by Naveau is possibly most of all obstinate and contradictory and, as Naveau explains, “it is a mixture that works without being able to instantly interpret what it is all about.”

Part of text by Charlotte Crevits, 2019