Sophie Cape
Magistra Natura

3 – 21 April


The first works of Sophie Cape’s I encountered were mostly small, intensively focused, not rendered, not illustrated, but consummately ‘painted’ faces and bodies; one a self-portrait, no vanity, a work of ‘cold eye’1 gaze into its own mirroring consciousness.

Thereafter the young as yet becoming artist Sophie Cape consented to re-converge into her own once famed athletic body, a volatile corporeal reservoir trained to extreme exactitudes of exertion; a memorial reservoir, of pain, exacerbation, exhilaration and attuned motion. There is something conspicuously brilliant in Cape’s exertive expression of material form, how in her practice, matter ‘expresses’ itself, forming through processes of primal action, instinctive and intuitive.

Still in early development Cape’s work demanded ever-larger working spaces to encompass its burgeoning gestural scale, inevitably venturing into the sites of base material – brush became branch – in here, out there – into the ultimate unruly sensory demesne of  genius loci, the immemorial Australian landscape. Another layer of artistic transformation thus began.

While I see nothing directly indigenous there, Cape’s work reverberates in some related ‘own country’ sense. One work, at least one, from her most current output reminds me of those other ancient survival images, from Lasceau; the indigenous art of other time and place. Cointentionally, at a remove from its Australian evocations Cape’s recent work invokes the actionismus of 20th Century middle Europe, where instinct-process similarly begat itself as in-formed meaning. Like the great Australian artist Mike Parr, whom she admires, Cape has internalised this parallel realm within the scope of her extending visual-historic vocabulary; of which this present exhibition offers palpable affirmation.

Bill Wright 18/03/2013  

Sophie Cape Magistra Natura