British-born sculptress, Eleanor Cardozo is renowned for her bronze sculptures that, in her own words, “celebrate the beauty of the human body and form.”
Over the last twenty years as an artist and sculptress, Eleanor Cardozo has carved a name for herself and her inimitable art in galleries across the world. Delving into her world of sculptures, Home Review speaks to the artist and learns about her journey from being a gymnast to a figurative sculptress.
Born and raised in England, Cardozo was trained in sculpture at The City and Guilds School of Art in London. She subsequently went on to study portraiture at the Cecil Graves School in Florence. “I come from an artistic family,” Cardozo says. Named after her grandmother who was a Royal Academy portrait artist, Cardozo’s mother is a violinist and pianist, and her father’s family is in the creative arts.
“My fascination with the human body was born out of the music, dance, art, and sports that were encouraged from an early age at home,” the sculptress adds. At 16, when she was at school, Cardozo’s art teacher pushed her to make her first sculpture. And she fell in love immediately with the feel of the material, the way you create something beautiful out of a simple mound of earth, and the challenge of three dimensions. For Cardozo there was no turning back from this point!
In 2010, Cardozo was invited by Egyptian business magnate, Mohamed Al-Fayed to display her works at Harrods, London. The success of the exhibition led to another display at Beau-Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne. This exhibit was right next to the Olympic Museum, which also approached her to supply sculptures of gymnasts for their gallery. Following this, a three-metre sculpture, dubbed as Olympic Gymnast was showcased at Westminster Abbey during the London 2012 Olympics. The same piece now resides at the President Wilson Hotel in Geneva, on the shores of Lac Leman.
When asked about her favourite piece, she mentions Poise – a half life-size version she first sculpted for the 2012 London Olympics. “There is something so ethereal about the lightness of the gymnast balancing on one toe on top of the world,” she says. The piece went on to become a prime figure during the Olympic Games, and earned Cardozo the reputation of a sculptress of international reckoning. “It is now ‘my logo’,” she adds.
Cardozo works with live models as she is motivated by “their beauty, grace, elegance and skill as dancers.” More than abstract, still life and landscape, she is inspired by figurative art. This doesn’t come as a surprise considering she is a trained gymnast. “My art celebrates the beauty of the human form,” she elucidates. “My models are dancers and gymnasts. The anatomy of a professional athlete is so perfect and the musculature is well-defined.”
For Cardozo, they are sculptures themselves and “make fascinating subjects for artists.” Private commissions require her to work with real people. Most of the time, however, she lets her imagination take over, ‘without the constraints of getting a likeness and allowing the sculpture to evolve as a work of art.’
Her studio, which is nestled in the courtyard of her beautiful home in a suburb of Geneva, is a modest and well-organised area with ample natural light pouring in from glass doors that face the lawn. Life-sized figures of gymnasts and dancers populate the studio space, along with pieces she is currently working on. The bronze figures are fired at a foundry in Jussy. She is also often privately commissioned to make smaller sculptures for Russian yachts and Asian clients.
Cardozo believes that artists are duty-bound to raise the standards and quality of art and provide inspiration for a better way of life. Art, over the course of centuries, has been known to unify and bring people together for the greater good. And this is what drives Cardozo in her artistic journey and cause. “I want to make sculptures where people can enjoy them for free,” she says. In this vein, she wants to donate more and more pieces to public spaces.
“Art can lift the spirit and speak to the heart’s ability for delight and wonder. At other times, it can also shock and depress the spirit. I go for the former,” Cardozo concludes. It is not often that one comes across a sculpture that is so breathtakingly beautiful that one has to pause and consume it all in. In the case of Cardozo’s sculptures, however, every piece is a story unto itself.
Text By Priyanka Menon
Photographs Courtesy Eleanor Cardozo