Contemporary Art Excellence Artist of The Year 2016 and 2013 Towry Best of East England Award Winner, Iva Troj seamlessly incorporates her vast experience of traditional painting techniques with postmodern elements to create engaging Renaissance-style works that challenge the notion of societal conformity.
Knowledge of traditional art techniques were first inspired by the necessity to fit within Cold War aesthetics of social realism. Alongside this, however, lay an acute perception of the reality existent beneath external structures:
Troj has long been inspired by Japanese art and culture – traditional and contemporary – evident in the strange characters and icons which populate her landscapes alongside nude renaissance figures. It would be straightforward to assimilate Troj’s work with some sort of allegory. However, the artist is open in expressing the danger in utilizing this as a tool that is often too culture specific. Instead by breaking up classical motifs, Iva Troj introduces parallel stories in a postmodern shift, binding the inescapably contemporary with revived histories.
“In many ways, I am what you get when you through ancient Sakar Mountain wisdom failing to adapt to totalitarian ideas right into the pits of post-industrial capitalism. My grandmother’s village used to be in the nomansland surrounding the Turkish and Greek/Bulgarian border during the communist regime. It used to be totally isolated from the industrial world and there was no school or a library (or pollution). And somehow my grandma knew what Wabi-sabi was. I asked her about it and she told me a story about a lion tamer. Beauty is ”imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” she said. I am not sure how I came to find the clues to Japanese culture. She never talked about China or Japan, “intimacy”, or appreciation of the ”ingenuous integrity of natural objects”. That was not how she spoke. Instead of using fancy words she showed me things and explained their beauty to me. Her house and her garden were full of evidence of beautiful imperfection.”
As a child I was taught to question one-dimensional narratives, which grew from a survival technique to a development technology of the artistic self. The foe I so often portray almost always represents the normalization of one or more dysfunctional discourses, such as the victimization of the female gender, religious dogma and racial inequality.
Like many artists, I discuss personal experiences. At the same time, I strive to escape the self, an urge that partially stems from crossing borders in the last years of the cold war. Living through cultural starvation in my childhood has made me restless and hungry for honest creativity with an almost childlike curiosity. In that sense, nothing I discuss is strictly personal. Sexual abuse, violence, trauma… I may present an unusual perspective on these topics stemming from the self, but only as an outset. The work needs to keep changing, relive itself, challenge its own conformity.
There is a point in every artist’s career when one is tempted to choose a tested and proven path. I’m constantly trying to resist this temptation by containing the “paths” in series where I can explore a motif or a theme without succumbing to the comforts of one visual style. The artists that I look up to for inspiration have one thing in common – constant renewal.
The themes in my body of work vary somewhat, but challenging the heteronormative perspective has always been a central concern. I am quite uncomfortable with conventional truths, especially the issue of gender conformity. This is the reason behind all the magic furry animals in “Lions and Monkeys” and “Garden” series, as they represent a view that doesn’t have anything to do with the male gaze or any kind of dominant perspective. The people in my paintings, especially the nudes, strive to represent a beauty that exists beyond the subjective view. My female nudes are comfortable in their skin and do not depend on any kind of male presence, behind the camera lens or in the background.
Traditional elements are very central to my body of work. It’s not so much a need to keep the style ”traditional”, but rather the way I speak. I grew up in a communist country. We sang songs about machines being superior to man and praised modernity while destroying nature and killing creativity and the human spirit with it. At the same time, my summers were spent in the mountains with my grandmother who had hanging gardens, thousand stories and no TV. These two realities are inseparable in my mind.
The painting technique I mostly use resembles the Flemish method of layering thin veneers of paint between layers of varnish. I start with pencils, pastels and varnish. After that I paint a lighter layer with acrylics and finish with a couple of thicker layers using a combination of mediums, often acrylics and oils, but sometimes gold leaf and inks.
EXHIBITIONS & EVENTS
COREY HELFORD GALLERY, CA, LA, USA. Opening May 6th. Exhibition site.
THE CHIMERA GALLERY in Ireland. Gallery site.
STUDIO45 in Brighton, UK
THE WHITNEY in Massachusetts, USA
COREY HELFORD GALLERY, CA, LA, USA
DECEMBER 17 – JANUARY 14, 2017 Beneath The Waves
Iva Troj 4 Friendship Vegan Shoes
Permanent Exhibit in Shoreditch, London, UK
The FRIENDSHIP VEGAN SHOES collaboration. Visit site!
RANDOM ART GALLERY // Contemporary Beast Exhibit – 22/7-23/8 2016. Visit!
FED THE LIONS at DYNAMITE GALLERY // Solo exhibit – April 2016. Visit site!
IVY ARTS // Group Expo – March 2016
MAYFAIR with Roberta Moore Contemporary in London, UK – 6-16th of May 2015
CAMERON CONTEMPORARY Brighton, UK – October 2014
IMITATE MODERN London with Roberta Moore Contemporary, September 2014
Lloyds Club Gallery London 12/2013-1/2014
LUMEN 50 GLOBAL TOUR: Jan 22-26, 2013: London, Gallery 27, Cork Street // Feb 23 – March 3, 2013: Shanghai, FQ Projects // March 8-16, 2013: Hong Kong, Plum Blossoms Art Gallery // June, 2013: Cardiff, Wales – Arcade Cardiff // Nov 1-10th, 2013: Gallery 61, New York City, USA
Brighton Fringe Festival, Jubilee Library – 5/2013
LUMEN CHARITY GALA. Cork Street, London, UK.
”The IvY Project”. Gallery Laveau, Stockholm, Sweden – 2012.