“The intent is never to recreate a scene or a specific place exactly, but to capture a feeling of a day or an experience.” – Sophie Treppendahl
Written by Leigh Sabisch, gallery assosciate, The Southern
Sophie Treppendahl paints the world that I wish I could live in. Sometimes, the way an artist interprets their surroundings is the perfect depiction of a dreamy, nostalgic world that mirrors our own reality. Her work gives you the sense of comfort, as if each canvas is a singular moment pulled out of what could be your own memory bank. The faceless figures allow you to place yourself in the piece, to imagine what they’re experiencing and pretend as though you’re experiencing it along side of them. Her smaller works feel like studies. Like a scrapbook of lovely, hazy memories. Her larger works, on the other hand, really suck you in. They allow you to really feel something. To momentarily participate in their world.
Your work has an incredible sense of intimacy; almost like I’m a voyeur looking into a private scene in a parallel world. What do you think it is that gives your work such a feeling of familiarity?
My pieces are all inspired by places I have been, often places I know well or revisit in memory. Most of my works are painted from a distillation of memory and photographs. The intent is never to recreate a scene or a specific place exactly, but to capture a feeling of a day or an experience. While every viewer at the gallery has not been to the James River, they have perhaps experienced the calm and quiet and limitlessness of the space that inspired the painting and find familiarity in that.
What is a classical and contemporary source of inspiration? Your work seems to live somewhere in a lovely middle ground between the two.
The most influential contemporary artist for me right now is Daniel Heidkamp. As for classical, well he was part of the Nabis – Edourd Vuillard. Both of them have an incredible sense of color, and create brilliant, peaceful, rich works from ordinary scenes.
You recently relocated to Virginia from Charleston; How has your geographical shift influence change in your work?
Moving to Richmond has completely changed my color palette. I had no idea how inspired I was by local landscape until moving here. While in Charleston, I was exited about pools and beaches but my work here has been focusing on the water of the James River. I have been inspired by the deep rich greens in color and foliage, the jagged tree lines, the rocky landscape. But more than just the imagery, its been a change of feeling as well. Moving here felt like breathing deeply for the first time in a while. Following a few chaotic years, my living Richmond has been a time to be present and focus on people and things I love. In turn, without intention, the figures in my work have become less chaotic and more calm as well. James at Dusk has this feeling of subdued quiet, like I can almost here the water running over the rocks. Its a new feeling to my work and I am excited to see where it leads.
As an artist, I think it’s important for your work to be influenced by what’s around you. It means that you’re living life actively and absorbing everything that is happening. It means that you’re allowing yourself to grow and change along with your surroundings. Sometimes you need to create work in a bubble in order to convey your intentions, but it’s important to at least be conscious of it. Sophie’s work is the perfectly affected by her surroundings while still maintaining the dreamy consistency of her world.