The body inhabits the most fundamental space in our reality; the mind is a direct consequence of being embodied. Our language has adapted the word ‘body’ well beyond the physical – to the psychological, emotional, and the creative; we speak of body image, body language, a nobody, the body politic, celestial bodies, a body of work. We rely on the concrete to convey the abstract; feeling down, being backward, giving the cold shoulder – or a helping hand. Our bodies are invested with power, and yet other bodies, alive or dead, sentient or not, by brute force or seductive coercion, have enormous power and influence on our physical and mental selves.
Alzbeta Jaresova’s practice examines how this can be; how the body in space transcends the purely physical, and how it feels to see as physical the spaces our bodies occupy: “I explore a figure-space relationship where the protagonists are placed into a contrivance, which exerts, or simply suggests, a power over their gesture”. Jaresova’s interest in the subject matter stems from her upbringing in Prague, where its mélange of Gothic, early Modernist, and Soviet era architecture left a powerful impression on her. Whilst her practice has its origin in the autobiographical, her new work reveals an evolving refinement towards the universal. Jaresova has understood that feelings often have a physical manifestation and that our physical states can impact how we feel, no matter where we are from or find ourselves.
Jaresova’s analyses and explorations create hypothetical environments where figures or extremities are positioned within geometric structures. This artistic device articulates the invisible, confining scaffolds at work in conformity, self-restraint, and social conditioning. The bodies take on a symbolic role: “they are manipulated like figurines, or toys, and placed into enclosed spaces…rather than trying to express their specific personalities, I am interested in exploring the figures’ gestures and using the positioning of their bodies to present a solemn moment of desolation and constraint”. Hands and feet – our implements for innumerable arts and locomotion respectively – are controlled and directed by artificial apparatuses, locked in position, fixed in stocks.
Astonishing technique and style underscore Jaresova’s facility to convey these messages. Her works, delicately rendered in monochrome on paper with graphite, or in intriguing three-dimensional objects, bely the unbearable weight of the concepts they embody. The works are beautiful and beguiling; more organic and with more pathos than purely anatomical drawings, Jaresova marries the expert technical prowess of Dürer and Escher, with the eerie quotidian of Vermeer’s paintings, and a sinister appreciation of the confining nature of the body and the spaces it inhabits.