Sculptor Richard Štipl shows intricate new works in Prague
New works by Czech-Canadian sculptor Richard Štipl are currently on display in the joint exhibition Incarnation at Prague’s DSC Gallery. Štipl, whose often hyperrealist, intricate pieces have brought him international renown, is showing his mainly wooden sculptures and reliefs alongside the top Czech glass artist Rony Plesl.
“I met Rony Plesl about two years ago and over the span of two years we became friends and realised we had a lot of things in common: our love of art, art history, and development of that, put into practice, and also our relationship to our media, craftsmanship and skill.
“This is kind of where the friendship started and it took off from there. We have a great respect for each other’s work.
“He has a studio in Karlín, which is open to the public and where you can come and see his work, and he installed some of my pieces, which I took as a sign of mutual respect.
“About a year ago I came up with the idea to do a joint show in Prague and he agreed, so it was a year in coming.”
Some of your sculptures on show at the DSC Gallery include human shapes, including heads of various sizes. The heads are so amazing and realistic, or hyper-realistic, looking. How do you make them?
“Well this latest series of sculptures is primarily made of wood, so they’re hand-carved, hand-finished.
“But before I start any of the sculptures I do them in clay, which gives me a great amount of freedom to take it to perfection without having to focus on the hard medium of wood, because with something like that you can’t just start banging away.
“So all the preparation pieces, or preparatory procedures, have to be in place before something like that happens.
“That took a long time to develop. I’ve been sculpting since about 2003 or 2004.
“So it’s a very time-consuming medium, especially with this last show.”
Are the faces based on real people or photographs? Or are they just from your imagination?
“A lot of them are based on me, because I’m a good model – I’ll sit as long as I have to.
“So a lot of the pieces kind of started out as self-portraits.
“Then I started sculpting some of my friends, those close to me, those around me.
“And they kind of start a dialogue between themselves, so there’s a built in narrative that kind of works with the pieces.”
Also in the show there are a couple of reliefs that seem to suggest, at least to me, biblical themes. Are these referencing actual religion, or artworks of the past?
“It’s a blend of both, because even though I draw a lot from biblical art and art history and all that I don’t want to be making illustrations of those stories and those myths.
“So I kind of mix them and interweave them to kind of mimic religion, but at the same time it gives you a perspective on the stories that we know came about, stories that we take for granted and at face value.
“But you start to turn and twist those things a little bit and you kind of realise that those stories could have been a little bit different, or a lot different, so it’s just to give the viewer a different on those stories we know and grew up with.”
Dlouhá 5, Prague 1
Until 4 February 2022