Artist biography

Irish sculptor. She studied in London at Middlesex Polytechnic (1985–8) and at Goldsmiths College (1990–92). She held her first solo exhibition (London, ICA, 1995). At her 1995 ICA exhibition Hapaska exhibited perfectly finished and smoothly elusive floor and wall sculptures, as well as a hyper-realistic figure, Saint Christopher (wax, human hair, cotton, oil paint, 900×500×700 mm, 1995; London, Entwistle Gal.). The contrast between the two was typical of the highly ambiguous atmosphere evoked by sculptures that incorporated a range of synthetic materials, sound and light elements, and that often made reference to speed and travel, to utopianism and to a technological sublime. At her 1997 exhibition Ago (London, Entwistle Gal.), she showed a series of highly minimal wall-mounted sculptures that suggested speed and displacement, produced in an edition of three, alongside a life-size wax figure of a monk sitting in a Marcel Breuer chair, The Inquisitor (wax, synthetic hair, oil paint, chair, audio components, 1.25×0.89×1.06 m, 1997), produced in an edition of two. The monk's left hand features a double set of fingers, while in his right hand he holds an oddly futuristic object that emits the sound of a speech in Latin, a lamentation of someone rendered obsolete by technological advance. These works point to the irreversibility of progress and to the sadness inherent in any utopianism. Their urbanity and obscurantism appears as an anti-naturalism, a way of keeping the anxieties of nature at bay.

Bibliography
Siobhán Hapaska (exh. cat., essays J. Roberts and S. Cotter, Tokyo, Sezon Mus. A., 1999)
Siobhán Hapaska: Saint Christopher's Legless (exh. cat., essay J. Roberts and interview I. Swenson, London, ICA, 1995)

JOHN-PAUL STONARD
10 December 2000

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