#Willy Verginer

Children and Animals Merge with the Natural World in Willy Verginer’s Whimsical ‘Lost Garden’

April 30, 2024

Kate Mothes

“Fiore del giardino” (2022), lindenwood and acrylic, 135 x 39 x 35 centimeters. Photos by Egon Dejori. All images © Willy Verginer, shared with permission

Whether deep in slumber or perched on ornamental pedestals, Willy Verginer’s bold, whimsical sculptures (previously) invite us into a surreal dream world. His latest series, The Lost Garden, draws on the paradisiacal notion of Eden and the alpine landscape and animals of the Dolomite Mountains near the artist’s home in northern Italy.

Verginer uses linden, or basswood, to chisel life-size sculptures of birds, bears, and human figures who merge with their natural surroundings. For example, in “Il fiume e la notte,” or “the river and the night,” a child sleeps atop a thicket of branches, simultaneously calm yet balancing precariously on thin supports. And in “Fiore del giardino,” or “garden flower,” a child’s head and shoulders are tightly enveloped with magenta flowers like a cloak.

Like much of Verginer’s work, The Lost Garden draws correlations and contrasts between society’s quickly advancing technologies and the way our reliance on phones or cars further separates us from nature. The artist’s sculptures stand like totems or nostalgic emblems, calling on a desire for a more interconnected world.

Verginer is working toward a solo exhibition at Studio d’Arte Raffaelli in Trento, Italy, this autumn. Find more on his website and Instagram.


Left: “Fra poco arriverà” (2022), lindenwood, acrylic, and aluminum leaf, 76 x 23 x 33 centimeters. Right: “Oceano verde dietro alle spalle” (2023), lindenwood, burned wood, aluminum leaf, 148 x 80 x 74 centimeters

Installation view of ‘The Lost Garden’

“Il fiume e la notte” (2023), different types of wood and acrylic, 55 x 85 x 53 centimeters

“The pink bear” (2022), lindenwood and acrylic, 85 x 225 x 90 centimeters

“Quattro zoccoli in paradiso (blue)” (2023), lindenwood, acrylic, and aluminum leaf, 235 x 150 x 70 centimeters

“Venuto dalle spiagge gelate” (2023), different types of wood, 100 x 78 x 45 centimeters

Work in progress in the artist’s studio

#Willy Verginer


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