Some Exercise of Power

Sculpture, 1980
Polychrome wood, onyx, acrylic, rope
York Stone base
182 x 280 x 185 cm

This sculpture, which forms the first part of a triptych including Acrobats (1983) and The Banquet (1985), is Pacheco’s first major multi-figure sculptural group since leaving her native Brazil (then under military rule since 1964) and coming to England in 1973. It was shown in 1980 at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London as part of a national touring exhibition entitled Women’s Images of Men.
In the sculptures made in Brazil and during her first years in Britain, Pacheco had taken as her main focus the relationship of human and landscape forms.  Some Exercise of Power marks a major transformation.  It represents her first engagement with the issue of unbridled power and displays several characteristics of subsequent pieces: polished stone eyes that animate individual figures and create links between them; prosthetic teeth whose arrangements defy orthodontics but are all the more expressive for that; the combination of the sculpted and the real – ropes, old doors, nails – a characteristic of Baroque sculpture; and, perhaps most importantly, the positioning of figures on the ground so that viewers encounter them not simply as figures from art.

Robert Bush