Some antique or Renaissance pieces likely come to mind when thinking about sculpture, and abstract sculpture confronts stereotypes about this art. As Irene Sirko’s works demonstrate, abstract sculpture doesn’t reject lifelikeness but forces viewers to employ a subtler perceptive mechanism.
The central tension born in abstract sculpture is between the absence of references to a particular familiar object and the concreteness and substantiality of the sculptural work itself. Unlike paintings or graphic pieces isolated from our space by a frame, sculpture operates through spatial dimensions and is inevitably co-present with us. Thus, it prompts us to relate its size and haptic qualities to our bodies and grasp its materiality. The latter, emancipated from the burden of an image, is celebrated in abstract sculpture. This possibility of dialogue with the material has attracted Irene in her experiments within this realm.
The sculptor has chosen stone as her primary medium. Being probably, the most traditional, rigid and challenging to treat, it still has some room for improvisation, in which author and material become partners in the creative process. Classical sculpture rarely addresses such a means of expression as colour, while it became the central part of the artist’s vision. Irene rarely comes up with a forethought idea for a final result but instead draws inspiration from the shape and texture of each particular stone. This going-with-the-flow aspect points to one of the artists Irene admires—Barbara Hepworth, an English sculptor famous for her biomorphic abstract compositions. Sirko quotes Hepworth’s words that resonate with her own method: “I rarely draw what I see. I draw what I feel in my body.”
The associations, evoked through touch and sight by volumes, lines and colours of stone, are finally shaped and defined through the sculptures’ titles. The featured pieces hint at some of the small, transient ingredients that compose the rhythms of summertime: sunshine, light breezes, cotton candy, tangerines, and even Kobe beef appetizers on the patio. Stone’s solidity melts through the attentive gaze of the artist, who reveals its potential for lightness and dynamism.
Irene Sirko is a Canadian artist of Ukrainian origin. She received her training from Toronto School of Art, Wilfrid Laurier University, Haliburton School of Arts, and private classes. In 2013, Sirko was elected into the Sculptors Society of Canada and is a member of the Ukrainian Association of Visual Artists of Canada, as well as Artists In Canada and Toronto West Arts Collaborative. Her works have been extensively exhibited throughout the country, included in international private collections and received several awards, like the People’s Choice Award at Artworks Oakville Juried Show and the Show Sculpture Award at the Colour & Form Society Juried Exhibition. The highlights of her career also include Special Recognition and Special Merit awards by Light, Space & Time Art Gallery.
Irene Sirko is the Bronze Artist of the ArtAscent Summer call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Summer issue.