The Swiss contemporary artist Urs Fischer has created a life-size wax sculpture of the art collector, curator and director of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, Dasha Zhukova. As a personal friend of the artist ‘Dasha’ (2018) is a larger-than-life-size wax candle. Cast entirely in wax, she wears a pink dress and is seated in a chair. A wick at the top of her head will be lit, and the candle will slowly melt over the course of the exhibition. Additional wicks strategically placed on the figure will be lit until the sculpture is reduced to a pile of wax drippings.
“The world has always been ending” —Urs Fischer
Fischer’s candle sculptures are captivating in their materiality and haunting in their implications; they serve as both portraits and meditations on time and gravity, life and death. As with traditional memento mori, viewers are reminded of the transience of life, beauty, and even art. Fischer began to make the candles in the early 2000s, with a series of crudely rendered female nudes, standing upright or lounging in groups. After a period of sustained research into mold making and casting, he began to make more realistic figurative candles that could burn for several months at a time, such as Untitled (2011), which included a full-size replica of Giambologna’s sixteenth-century sculpture The Rape of the Sabine Women, and Marsupiale (Fabrizio) (2017), a hybrid of the Florentine antique dealer Fabrizio Moretti and an oversize bust of St. Leonard. The figure of Moretti was cast in red wax, and wicks placed in order that it would melt into the white bust, which remained intact and unburned, leaving a bloody wound across the patron saint of prisoners.
Urs Fischer was born in Zurich in 1973 and lives and works in New York. Collections include the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels; FRAC-Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Marseille, France; Fondation Carmignac, Paris; Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich; and Museo d’arte della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland. Recent institutional exhibitions include Kir Royal, Kunsthaus Zürich (2004); Not My House Not My Fire, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2004); Mary Poppins, Blaffer Gallery, Art Museum of the University of Houston, TX (2006); 52nd Biennale di Venezia (2007); Marguerite de Ponty, New Museum, New York (2009–10); 54th Biennale di Venezia (2011); Skinny Sunrise, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2012); Madame Fisscher, Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2012); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2013); YES, DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra, Greece (2013); Small Axe, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2016); Mon cher…, Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, Arles, France (2016); and Urs Fischer: The Public & the Private, Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (2017).