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.
“My grandmother used to talk about ”Wabi-sabi”. I asked her what it was 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.”
I’m interested in the body as an organism made up of a variety of seemingly contradictory dichotomies: Body - an envelope containing the mind versus Mind - a separate entity; Nature - the living versus Culture - a construct; Painting - fiction portrayed using pigments versus Photography - mirror of reality; Fiction - the opposite of truth versus Reality - absolute truth. In my art I aim to collapse these distinctions into each other.
I’ve been told I have artistic talents since I was a little girl. The problem was I spent most of my time worrying about the meaning of it all. I grew up in a rough neighborhood, in the outskirts of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. At times it felt like the whole place was full of violent men. My family was very strict, loving and protective of me so I managed to keep my head above water. I had to. I had talents and with talents came purpose. Art confused the life out of me nevertheless. I searched for answers and inspiration in books and magazines, but they were all full of submissive naked women, always looking in mirrors combing their hair, getting ready for bed, being chased, seduced, on their knees, or laid bare everywhere possible. I so wanted to just go in there and change these narratives. So… I studied traditional and digital art techniques for two decades in order to be able to do that.
Collaborations. Creativity-based social systems have one interesting feature, they are deviation amplifying instead of deviation controlling. This is why collaborative projects often lead to really interesting results and expand beyond the gallery walls. I have been working on forming collaborations with likeminded artists and musicians since 2012. My most recent collaborations are with the Japanese artist Seiko Kato, the renowned photographer John Paul Bichard, artist/musician Greg Gilbert and Justyna Neryng - an artist whose stories have the inspirational power to fuel decades of exploration. None of these artists are random. Our parallel life stories have a lot in common, saturated with strange encounters, unbelievable coincidences and the strong childhood desire to belong. I strongly believe that the future of arts is in collaborations. I also think that this process has already started as the elitist notion of high culture saturating the world of fine art is beginning to dissolve. Youth culture anywhere in the western world is a proof of that.
By saying that I do not in any way claim that working with other artists is easy. I spent decades looking for somebody who could see through my eyes the way people did where I grew up – the mountains on the Bulgarian/Greek border. As I moved farther and farther away from The Sacar Mountain I met fewer and fewer people who spoke the same emotional and visual language. Growing up with all knowing, powerful storytellers and healers, learning from them then watching them disappear, made me distant and unwilling to communicate.
The collaborations have changed that.
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