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UOMO E ANIMAL – Saskia Pfaeltzer & Barbara Polderman

Two female sculptors who have earned their spurs in recent years. Images that show humans and animals, attributing human features and emotions. Materials varied and beyond the classical parameters of stone and bronze. Textiles, resin, iron wire, feathers, photo’s, cardboard, ceramics, curtains, beads, glue chalk and paint. Installations or groups of statues capturing the silence, bringing a layering that reflects on our history and self-image.


“I have to keep on surprising myself, which stimulates me and gives my pleasure in what I do.“

Art is in Saskia Pfaeltzer’s blood. Not a day goes by that she doesn’t create a work of art – everything around her inspires her. Her keen observations are effortlessly expressed in a variety of materials such as bronze, clay, plaster, wax, paper, epoxy resin and polystyrene. She embraces all formats; from towering porcelain columns, to intimate 10 cm high sculptures of horses and dancers. 

In her countryside atelier in north east Belgium, Saskia carves sculptures in local hardstone – and in her atelier on the Nassaukade in Amsterdam, she draws and paints. She frequently visits China, where in the famous porcelain city of Jingdezhen, she experiments with new techniques, using indigenous materials and collaborating with local craftsman. The combination of Saskia Pfaeltzer’s no-nonsense approach, her confident control over a large variety of techniques and the diversity of subject matter that she tackles, has led to a unique and colorful oeuvre. Nowadays she is into making sculptures with cardboard.

Figuration is the thread the runs through Saskia’s work – her sculptures, depicting mostly people and animals, are recognizable and speak directly to the viewer. They seem real, yet inhabit a different reality. They belong to the realms of fantasy and frequently reference ancient civilisations – a sheephead on top of a tall vase, women who carry entire citadels on their heads. The sculptures consciously avoid a polished finish, allowing the lively texture to remain and the material to reveal its individual characteristics.

Recently she turned to making books: grafic novels about philosophers like Spinoza, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein and more. Also “Philosophers beyond borders” is from her hand.

Saskia Pfaeltzer (1955) studied at the Rijksakademie of Arts in Amsterdam, where she focused on sculpting and painting. Decades ago she has split her time between the Netherlands and the Caribbean. In 2010 she started traveling to China for work and research. 

Saskia has exhibited nationally and internationally, and her work – commissioned or personal – is shown in private, corporate and  museum collections all over the world. 

Contrary to the amount of unnecessary rubbish I focused on this seemingly worthless and humble material. Thanks to this new impulse, my work takes on a unique form and stimulates a variety of encounters with other art forms such as performance and theatre. I make cardboard theaters with paper details in which I perform myself.  In recent years I have focused on working with paper and cardboard: making images from cardboard, residual material, waste. I am fascinated by this material which allows me to create on a completely different level compared to my previous work. 

There are four high columns, on which caryatids (female figures who bear the world) stretch their arms towards the sky.


Memories and textiles play a central role in Barbara Polderman’s work. Her sculptures, of human and animal figures, tapestries and collages radiate an atmosphere that is both recognizable and impenetrable. She says: “My fascination for textiles started in my childhood. In my family home was a storage place that we called ‘behind the curtain’. There was large collection of old clothing and other textiles. I found it intriguing that the material gave acces to another world and other lives.”

“The three-dimensional figures that Barbara Polderman makes are strikingly blank in their appearance. It is as if they are messengers, intermediaries between here and there, between her thoughts and mine. They linger, they are there and at the same time they are not. The artist explores how she can create unconventional connections. How an emotion can enter a work like a spirit. And what is the limit of projection? She covers faces with triangle patterns to disguise them. Triangles as a regular pattern, but also a sign of danger and an excellent connecting motif; everything is interwoven with everything.” (quote: Inge Pollet, from: The settling of mist, the kaleidoscopic perspective of Barbara Polderman)

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