Jaume Plensa

Jaume Plensa, Wilsis, 2016. Courtesy the artist and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde Image 1 of 3
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Jaume Plensa, Wilsis, 2016. Courtesy the artist and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde Image 2 of 3
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Wonderland, 1993 Image 3 of 3
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In 2011 YSP presented the first major UK exhibition by the leading international sculptor Jaume Plensa, bringing record numbers to the Park and receiving an overwhelmingly positive response.

This spring we welcome a beautiful new seven-metre-high cast iron sculpture called Wilsis by Plensa as part of the Park’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

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Plensa’s sculpture gives physical form to the intangible, using the body as a way of exploring what it means to be human and engaging with universal themes: love, memory, language and despair. Other works need the presence of a human body to make them complete, such as Song of Songs. These glass cabins, immersed in coloured light, are only large enough for one visitor to enter and are spaces for solitary contemplation.

Wilsis, 2016
Wilsis belongs to a series of portrait heads depicting young girls from around the world, with their eyes closed in a dreamlike state of contemplation. The work is over seven metres high and by making these portraits on such a monumental scale, Plensa transforms the ordinary into something extraordinary. This treatment is drawn from his belief that all human beings have the potential to be remarkable, regardless of background or status. In Wilsis, the girl appears to be thinking of something beyond the present and the immediate, her youthful aura suggesting hope and potential. This feeling of otherworldliness is exaggerated by the elongation of the physical portrait through digital manipulation, which the artist feels removes a sense of the real, material body and instead reaches the spirit beyond.

Wilsis is a fascinating exploration of perspective through the flattening of form, an idea that grew out of Plensa’s desire to understand what happens on the other side, on the reverse of things with which we are familiar, such as letters printed on a page, or a portrait head on a coin. From the front the head appears realistic, yet from the side it is an extremely flattened relief. Viewing the work at YSP represents a journey of discovery, first glimpsed in a beautiful setting across the lake, and revealed fully as you walk around the landscape to discover it more closely.

Plensa has an international reputation and has completed significant public art projects around the world, including the momentous Crown Fountain (2004) in Chicago. In 2009 he created Dream, a 20-metre high sculpture for St Helens as part of Channel 4’s Big Art Project.

Wonderland I (1993) can also be seen in the open air at YSP and has been lent by the artist on long-term loan.

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The Plensa exhibition was probably the finest I've seen at YSP. Breathtaking. This addition, (is it permanent?) is wonderful. Seen from across the lake or close up it is a magnificent piece of work. See it.
Mike Roberts on Jaume Plensa | See all (2) comments
So beautiful, I want to stroke her cheek. She blends and joins nature. Jenny Wray on Jaume Plensa

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