Carole Feuerman’s Breathtakingly Beautiful Swimmer Sculptures Blur The Lines of Reality

The headline blared from The Daily Mail this morning: Coach Pulls Olympic Swimmers Out of Training Pool Fearing an Outbreak of Infections. Indeed, for all the worries surrounding the safety and health of athletes leading up to Rio 2016, perhaps none seemed so great as those concerning the water bound Olympians.

Carole Feuerman has made an artistic mission of sculpting the physicality of swimmers, as a way of conveying a sort of holistic mind-body perfection of human health. So the timing of the Chelsea, New York based hyperrealist artist’s current exhibition Perception, on view at KM Fine Arts in Los Angeles until September 10, could not be more zeitgeisty and topical.

Her works, hardly surprisingly, are at their most engaging and thought provoking in genuinely public settings. And this coming Tuesday, there will be an opening reception as her monumental diver sculpture, The Golden Mean, is installed at the entrance of St. Tropez’ renowned Hotel de Paris. Her works will also be on view at the Galerie des Lices, just across from the hotel.

In the midst of a hectic schedule that also includes “meet the artist” appearances in Capri and Positano next week, we chatted with her about Hindu Gods, the Venice Biennale 2017 and her favorite, Degas’ ballerinas.

Carole Feuerman 005 Survival of Serena

Degas was obsessed with ballerinas, it is said, as much for their discipline as their beauty. What is it about swimmers that inspires you to sculpt them?

I love to create beautiful, super-contemporary sculptures–mostly swimmers–that celebrate the joy of life. The realism in my art stems from my desire to portray real emotions and physical states of being–from peaceful serenity to energy to equilibrium to vigor. My sculptures promote the idea of total health. The World Health Organization stated in 1970, the decade in which I began making my sculptures, that health embraced ‘physical emotional and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’  A sound mind in a sound body, in other words.  This is one of the defining aspects of my work.

When not in motion, your sculptures often seem in a state of meditation. Why is that?

Despite my demanding career, I have never lost sight of the importance of rest and reflection. I am fascinated by Hinduism and actually one of my pieces, DurgaMa, is inspired by the Hindu goddess Durga. The bronze figure sits in complete tranquility on a sacred lotus flower, a classic meditation position for physical stability. She is the symbol of birth, rebirth and survival, which are common themes in my work. In my other piece entitled Balance, you can see the evocation of sound, mind and soul; the figure is fixed in a state of repose and reverie, and the ease of her curving silhouette reflects a powerful tranquility.

What other sculptors have actually influenced your work?  

Fellow hyperrealists Maurizio Cattelan and Ron Mueck, who often comment on politics and human dynamics.  I am also influenced by Rodin, George Segal, and Duane Hanson; and, of course, Degas and his dancers.

Carole Feuerman KM Fine Arts

Are there specifics about the real over the unreal that attract you?

Hyperrealism provides a more compelling, monumental rendition of the real. A painter does a two-dimensional painting; I, as a sculptor, sculpt in the 4th dimension.  Each sculpture invites the viewer to complete the story, sometimes even to think it might look alive and open its eyes at any moment. I do not simply copy what I see, but I convey a monumental reality. Hyperrealism is not a false reality or a lie, but a compelling illusion. My sculptures–particularly my signature swimmers–reveal me as a master illusionist.

Tell us about the current KM Fine Arts LA show. How is it arranged?

Perception is my first Los Angeles solo exhibition. Museum size, life-sized works are featured alongside a selection of my new diamond-dust silkscreens created especially for this show, and a few archival pigment prints. My iconic swimmers and divers are paired with new bronze works from my dancer series. My sculptures in this show are made from oil on resin, lacquer on resin, polished stainless steel, and bronze.

What is next for you in terms of your work and exhibitions? 

I plan to site the dancers in the park on trees in the 2017 Venice Biennale; in October I will have solo shows in Frankfurt and London; and eight of my most iconic pieces will be shown in a solo show at the National Hotel in Miami Beach for Art Basel.

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