Willy Verginer was raised in the Val Gardena region in Italy, surrounded by the summits, forests and Dolomite Mountains that which became an important influence in his work. As an adolescent, he began his fine arts education in painting and studied at the Institute of secondary art education in Ortisei. However, his gravitation toward woodwork and sculpture would lead him to seek training in the latter discipline. While in school, he coupled his education by frequenting the studios of many sculptors in the valley of Val Gardena, renowned for its woodworking traditions since the eighteenth century. Although he successfully assimilated the artisanal and ancestral traditions of polychrome sculpture, and integrated the traditional vocabulary of the profession, his ambitions proved to be more vast, universal and contemporary.
The technical processes adopted by Willy Verginer offer insights into his approach, which is at once figurative and conceptual. His sculptures are composed of a massing of several blocks of wood, which are dried naturally over six years to avoid morphing. He conceives, from these large masses, the forms of his sculptures with the help of a chainsaw and a hatchet before refining his work with chisels and all manner of small tools to work the eyelids or the earlobe of one of his figures. Despite their hyperrealist modeling, the resulting figures are devoid of facial expression; with their fixed gaze and apparent detachment, they are party to the mysteries of representation, establishing, especially in recent works, a compelling rapport with the absurd.
The series Human Nature, which bears the mark of environmentalist discourse, offers compositions that depict the impact of industry on living things and their habitats. In this vein, Verginer juxtaposes oil drums, wild animals and clear-cut forests in his sculptures. By reducing the theme of the forest to a single tree, he bears witness to the fragility of ecosystems and urges the viewer to act to protect them from the noxious effects of industry. The grey or metallic sheen of the barrels spreads across different elements of the sculptural compositions: an act of aggression representing pollution and the degradation of humanity. By employing the fragility and beauty of nature in an ironic and humoristic manner, Verginer forces us to question the impacts of our daily actions.