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Paloma Varga Weisz: Bumped Body

13 March – 28 June 2020

Release date: Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Kara Chatten

  • By Kara Chatten
  • Henry Moore Institute
  • Marketing & Communications Manager (Leeds)

Bumped Body introduces the enchanting figurative sculpture of Paloma Varga Weisz in the artist’s first public solo exhibition in England. Using traditional techniques of woodcarving and ceramics, her sculptures create a symbolic universe with a cast of characters that are both alluring and unsettling.

Alongside sculpture, Varga Weisz uses watercolour and drawing to create a world of masquerades, disguises and role reversals. Her work often begins with an element of autobiography, but quickly becomes universal in its provocations around identity, societal ‘norms’ and historical stereotyping.

In Wilde Leute, small terracotta figures represent curious creatures; androgynous people with animal ears. Made in 1998 the figures reveal how even early on Varga Weisz was distancing herself from conventional identities. The creation of characters in an in-between state continues through much of her work: the forlorn seated figure of Bumpman (2002), covered in undulating fleshy growths, or the ghostly woman of Waldfrau (2001). In this sculpture the figure sits on a tree trunk with an elf-like creature on her lap; a reversal of so many gendered portraits throughout art history. Varga Weisz’s world is instead malleable, ambiguous and full of narrative complexity.

Classically trained in Bavaria, Varga Weisz learnt traditional woodcarving and modelling before studying at the art academy in Düsseldorf. Her work is filled with echoes of art history and, especially, the artistic and cultural history of the Europe. Its cultural-historical and iconographic traditions are reflected in her choice of materials, craftsmanship, symbolism and existential themes. While the emblems and icons of history are present throughout her work, the visual and symbolic journey Varga Weisz’s work elicits is very much her own, and one of the present day.

Varga Weisz was born in Mannheim, Germany in 1966 and lives and works in Düsseldorf.

The exhibition continues a strand in the Henry Moore Institute’s programme of exhibitions that presents important sculptors of today whose work is yet to have full exposure in the UK. The exhibition will be accompanied by a rich programme of talks, lectures and debates. Paloma Varga Weisz: Bumped Body is delivered in partnership with Bonnefanten, Maastricht, where it was presented from 6 October 2019 – 2 February 2020.

The exhibition is accompanied by an artist's book – Bumped Body – published by Bonnefanten and Koenig Books, London.



For further information or images please contact Anys Williams at Anita Morris Associates on 01943 603311 /


Notes for editors:

About the artist

Paloma Varga Weisz (b. 1966, Mannheim, Germany) lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany. Varga Weisz works primarily as a sculptor and as a draughtswoman; producing intricate carvings and small scale, mythical watercolour works. Classically trained in Bavaria, Varga Weisz was taught traditional techniques of woodcarving, modelling and casting before attending art school in Düsseldorf in the 1990s. Varga Weisz’s handmade woodcarvings are heavily textured and tactile, and frequently probe traditional approaches towards display. Her figures, both sculptural and illustrated, are often laden with personal and collective motifs, where oddities of form are common fare: anthropomorphic figures, hybrid forms, or figures verging on the grotesque.

About the Henry Moore Institute

The Henry Moore Institute welcomes everyone to experience, study and enjoy sculpture. An international research centre located in the vibrant city of Leeds, where Henry Moore began his training as a sculptor, the Institute hosts a year-round changing programme of historical, modern and contemporary exhibitions presenting sculpture from across the world. As a hub for sculpture, the Institute connects a global network of artists and scholars. The Institute is part of the Henry Moore Foundation, an independent arts charity whose mission is to bring people together to think about why sculpture matters. Free to all and open seven days a week.

About Bonnefanten

The Bonnefanten is the art museum of Limburg, the Netherlands and the Euregion. The museum is known for its permanent collection exhibitions of old, modern and contemporary art, along with unique temporary exhibitions of non-mainstream (international) art and artists. Bonnefanten is situated in the recognizable museum building along the Maas, designed by the Italian Architect Aldo Rossi.

Venue details

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Friday, 10am - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment

Comments (2)

Nad Fiorrucci

4 October 2020 14:18

Visited the exhibition " Bumped Body" by the very gifted artist/sculptures Paloma Varga Weiss on 30th September(my birthday!).Been intending 2 visit the exhibition b4 @ The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, but along came Mr Coronovirus! There is a sculptor sat outside on a log of a very bumpy warty man..almost alienesque..I've renamed him Mr Coro..we have seen pics of what coronovirus looks like under a microscope, he is the humanform version of the said virus! I did enjoy the rest of the exhibition, but didn't want 2 hang around 4 for 2 long!

Andrew Holland

19 September 2020 16:42

Hi, visited Thursday. Fascinated by Lumpman. Brilliant.

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