urethane rubber, plastic, timber, metal
151 × 60 × 70cm approx.
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the MCA Foundation, 2016
The elegantly refined forms of Soft Kiss recall the modernist sculptures of Brancusi and Modigliani from the beginning of the twentieth century. Their spare and subtle sculptures, carved in wood and cast in metal, aimed to reduce form to its essence of line, volume and light. Sanne Mestrom is interested in the psychological, emotional and cultural significance attached to iconic modernist works of art by artists like Brancusi, Modigliani, Picasso and Moore. She appropriates and reworks this aesthetic in her sculptures and works on paper, using unexpected juxtapositions and materials, such as the smooth cast foam she has used for Soft Kiss.
The kiss, as a physically and emotionally loaded gesture and interaction has been the subject of a number of iconic modernist artworks, of which perhaps Rodin’s 1898 work in marble and Brancusi’s 1916 work in stone are the most famous. The sensual and universal embrace of the kiss is reprised by Mestrom in this more reserved work, which limits contact to that of lips on cheek, maintaining the separation between bodies. Mestrom has left the work deliberately unfinished, so that the seams cast by the molding process are evident. Eschewing the modernist drive towards the perfectly finished piece, she leaves her works just short of completion. This refusal to fully resolve the work not only lays bare the processes by which they were made but is in itself a critique of modernism’s quest for finite resolution, which was to be found in mastering the essence of something – whether the lineament of a face or the sensuality of a kiss. Mestrom makes the familiar forms of modernist sculpture strange by subtly altering their defining characteristics, yet still calls into play their elegant aesthetic and seductive beauty.
My practice draws on twentieth century iconic modernist works to explore the psychological, emotional and cultural significance attached to them. I explore how value is accorded to these objects, how they are always tied to their cultural and art-historical contexts and how they may become substitutes for particular values or beliefs.
Sanné Mestrom, 2013
The Prahran market in Melbourne delivered to Sanné Mestrom the bust that formed the inspiration for the pair of figures in Soft Kiss. Seeing the modernist sculptor Brancusi echoed in the rescued item, Mestrom transformed the bust into this intimate and captivating sculpture currently on display in MCA Collection.
Born 1979, Heerlen, The Netherlands. Lives and works Melbourne.
Sanné Mestrom reworks well-known imagery from twentieth-century art to explore their psychological, emotional and cultural significance. She creates imperfect casts and copies of objects in contrary materials, making a bronze version of a plastic original, a plaster version of stone sculpture, or a concrete sculpture of a flat painting. Mestrom’s selected solo exhibitions include Weeping Woman, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne (2014); The Internal Logic, West Space, Melbourne (2013); The Reclining Nude, Chalk Horse Gallery, Sydney (2012); Studio 12, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne (2011); Shaker Peg, Chalk Horse Gallery, Sydney (2010); Things fall down. Sometimes we look up, Chalk Horse Gallery, Sydney (2009); Certain Sacrifices, RMIT School of Art Gallery, Melbourne (2008); and A History of Space is the History of Wars, Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (2007).
Selected group exhibitions include Never-Neverland, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (2014); New 13, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2013); Bathysphere, Chalk Horse Gallery, Sydney (2013); Ode to Form, West Space, Melbourne (2012); Creative Accounting, UTS Gallery, Sydney (2011); Eight Artists, Eight Editions, West Space, Melbourne (2010); Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne (2009); Spaghetti Junction, Gallery 64zero, Christchurch, New Zealand (2008); and Life is Sweet: Contemporary Australian Watercolour, Gippsland Regional Gallery, Sale (2007).Learn more