Sophie Ryder

(U.K.) *1963 in London

For “Blickachsen 10”, nine of Sophie Ryder’s characteristic works can be seen in the outside areas and inside the armarium of the Cistercian Eberbach Abbey. The British artist is also showing a further bronze at the Niederhöchstadt Sculpture Park in Eschborn. Through their careful placing within the medieval monastery complex, Ryder’s figures and figural groups – which seem as familiar as they are mysterious – engage in a direct dialogue with their historical surroundings. Dancing, standing or sitting, alone or as part of an ensemble, as a pair with a Minotaur or surrounded by dogs - in the bronzes on display at Eberbach Abbey, too, Sophie Ryder’s “Lady Hare” greets the viewer as a central motif. The artist models its female body on her own, but shapes the hare’s head – and her other animal figures – free-hand. She explains that she is not thereby seeking a mimetic likeness: "I sculpt characters and beings – the dogs, the hares, the Minotaurs are all characters beyond animal form." In addition to the bronzes, the exhibition also includes one of Sophie Ryder’s unusual works made of galvanised steel wire: the monumental “Open Hand”.

Sophie Ryder has devoted herself throughout her career to the representation of part-human, part-animal beings as allegories of human characteristics, emotions and desires. One such hybrid is “Lady Hare”, a figure with a woman’s body and a hare’s head which Ryder developed at an early date into a central motif within her artistic oeuvre. The hare can be found throughout art history as a symbol of fertility and lust, of resurrection, power and wisdom. Sophie Ryder inscribes these meanings into her female figures, which she frequently portrays in company with the mythical Minotaur as a male vehicle of expression, or with dogs as man’s trusty companion. At “Blickachsen 10” the artist is exhibiting nine of her characteristic works at Eberbach Abbey and her monumental sculpture “Conversation” at the Niederhöchstadt Sculpture Park in Eschborn. In this last work, Lady Hare and a dog sit facing each other on a horse, each looking attentively at the other. Sophie Ryder – who is a passionate dog breeder as well as an artist – thus transforms the companionable “Conversation” between the two beings into a metaphor of friendship and mindfulness.