Man and His Sheep
‘Man and His Sheep’ is a large installation by Brazilian born artist Ana Maria Pacheco consisting of eight carved wooden figures arranged in a procession across a marble floor.
It deals with issues that have been important to her artistic practice for a long time, such as the psychology of power and the relationship between the group and the individual. Pacheco is inspired by her native country of Brazil where street processions celebrate death and the journey of the spirit. Her figures are exquisitely modelled and the faces record a variety of expressions.
In ‘Man and His Sheep’ seven figures huddle around the leading male figure who represents a shaman and carries the head of a ram as a sacrificial totem. The other figures are shown glancing at each other with expressions of fear, excitement and suspicion. Each figure is carved from a single piece of lime-wood then painted and waxed to give them a startling, lifelike appearance. Pacheco has used a type of stone called onyx for the figures eyes and acrylic teeth in their mouths, adding to the figures sinister expressions and reflecting the influence of religious icons from Brazilian and Portuguese traditions.
Each figure was initially blocked out from a single lime log. For the ‘clothed’ figures the artist used a chainsaw to create the folds. This was followed by controlled burning with a blowtorch to break the rigidity of the cuts on the garments and ‘hair'. The wood was then stained and waxed.
To paint exposed areas of flesh, such as faces, hands, feet and the body of the leading figure, the artist used an emulsion and gesso base to combine with the oil that carried the colour, which was applied using cotton buds. The acrylic teeth (from a dental supplier) were inserted individually.
Ana Maria Pacheco was born in 1943 in Brazil. She grew up during troubled times in Brazil, culminating in the take-over by the military junta in 1969. Her work is partly inspired by this time period but also addresses universal themes of freedom, political indoctrination and personal morality.
Purchased by the Friends of Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery to celebrate their 75th anniversary, with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund, the Victoria & Albert Purchase Grant Fund and the Public Picture Gallery Fund, 2005.
Dimensions: 200 x 450 x 400cm.