NAS Retake: Sophie Cape
As we’re all spending more time inside, we’ve been digging around in our Archive and Collection and rediscovering some brilliant work collected over the years from NAS Alumni. To share it with you, here’s the first in our new series called NAS Retake, celebrating and observing the student works of our alumni. This week, we’re kicking off with Sophie Cape, who graduated from NAS in 2010.
When Cape’s career as an elite athlete ended due to injury in 2008, her art making became the perfect outlet for her athletic energy and her love of being outdoors. Cape immersed herself physically and emotionally into the landscape. It was at the National Art School that she discovered and developed her unique visual language, making large-scale, visceral artworks composed predominately on the ground, outside and in seclusion.
The drawing Rests her weary head (pictured above) was made in her first year of art school after a trip to the bush. Cape used locally found materials: soil for pigments, burnt branches as charcoal, bones to draw with, and shrubs as brushes. These works became cathartic, psychological self-portraits fusing the artist’s raw energy and emotion, materiality and narrative. The work combines her lifelong love of poetry with the interchangeability of line, drawing and text – ongoing elements of her work. This also kick started her experiments with abstraction.
Sophie Cape’s paintings are both abstract and figurative, and are made through a dramatic, performative process, with great expression and physicality. Her works are often large in scale and psychological in the dialogue that they create about the human condition.
Romper Stomper is a portrait of the actor Dan Wyllie which took two years to make. The artist has commented on the sitter’s light-hearted, almost clownish characteristics compared to another darker side to his character. She says, ‘this contradiction is what life is about; that beauty does not exist without horror and that one cannot be truly appreciated without the other’. This work won the Portia Geach Memorial Award for portraiture in 2014.
Self-portrait (2008) was from the artist’s second year of study and was her first attempt at portraiture and painting with oils. The intensity of the gaze and the formal composition from forehead to chin clearly relates to her large-scale portrait of Dan Wyllie painted six years later.
Want to find out more?
Keep your eyes peeled on our page as we feature new works and artists straight from the NAS Archive and Collection. Follow the hashtag on Instagram to stay up-to-date with our latest posts.
Images (top to bottom): Sophie Cape, Rests her weary head, 2008, charcoal and soil pigment on paper, 55 x 75 cm, National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018. Image courtesy and © the artist; Sophie Cape, Romper Stomper (Dan Wyllie), 2014, bitumen, acrylic, oil, soil, charcoal and ink on canvas, 200 x 200 cm, National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018. Image courtesy and © the artist; Sophie Cape, Self Portrait, 2008, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm, National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2018. Image courtesy and © the artist