Gallery: Sculpture: Elizabeth Presa |
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Elizabeth Presa

As a sculptor, Elizabeth Presa began her career with elegant classical busts that you could hide in plain sight in the sculpture halls of the Victoria and Albert Museum, although an expert in her work would still probably be able to nose them out because of their unusual delicacy. But she became herself by leaving any identifiable tradition — including any modernist tradition — a long way behind, until, today, it is very hard to think of an antecedent. There are sculptors who spend their whole time being not like anyone else, but she is not like any of them either. The artistic parallels are all in nature, in the flow of pollen on the wind or tendrils in the water. Uncannily, she combines this sympathetic penetration of the more diaphanous natural forms with a sensual feeling for philosophy as a written human creation. Her beautiful installation “Calculation of the Rainbow”, for example, inscribes texts by Spinoza on water glasses and wine glasses, with the effect of a clepsydra warehouse that has been given the task of remembering a library. She herself is an adept at providing accompanying texts, and a few of those are reproduced here, to give something of the effect that her teaching must have on her classes at the University of Melbourne's Victorian College of the Arts, where she is Head of the Centre for Ideas. But finally her work is more involving than any explanation that could possibly made of it: never simply, but always purely, beautiful.