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The new influencers

Harpers Bazaar June 2013

Noelle Faulkner

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In early April, the cream of Sydney's eastern suburbs art set gathered for the opening of Sophie Cape's Magistra Natura at Olsen Irwin gallery in Woollahra. A series of red dots began steadily appearing around the room, but above the dots were not the usual blue-chip trophies of art collecting but, rather, epic gestural paintings festooned with bleached white bones and sprayed with dirt, bitumen and blood (they might have been dusted with god, the way they were selling). Since graduating from Sydney's National Art School in 2010, Cape has been that rare breed a painter unafraid of darkness yet a bright beacon for collectors. For Cape, blood and bones are "a symbol of all that I look for in a work," she says. In her previous life as a champion downhill ski racer, she was exposed to both: "I'd either win or I'd crash - no in between." But after retiring from sport following a serious injury. Cape (the daughter of Mosman painter Ann Cape) found her second life at art school. "Art is very much my saviour," she says. "It is my way of getting that adrenaline, that physicality." She's fast gaining momentum. Represented by Olsen Irwin (olsenirwin.com) she will show as part of an Australia China Art Foundation residency in China. Studio soundtrack: Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. Artist inspiration: Hermann Nitsch. "I love the blood and guts and the theatricality; [his work is] is very visceral and alive." Film: Lars von Trier's The Idiots (1988) "Raw, emotional and beautiful but horrific at the same time." Book: Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
- Michael Fitzgerald

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