Sarka Radova belongs to the third generation of a family that holds an important place in Czech art: Her grandfather was a painter and her parents are ceramic artists. She also devotes herself to ceramic art, namely, applied and small-scale sculpture, although it is increasingly clear that she also still tends towards free sculpture on a larger scale. Nevertheless, she continues creating her works out of porcelain. This mixture of ground kaolin, quartz and felspar has a fine consistency and can be modelled into forms that are precise and defined down to the tiniest detail. It also lends itself well to being textured or given a perfectly smooth surface. After being fired to a high temperature, Radová's sculptures acquire stone-like strength and resemble works carved out of fine-grained marble, particularly if they are unglazed. The properties of unglazed porcelain or biscuit-ware suit Radová best and she uses this material to realise her artistic ideas, which are expressed not only by the physical scale of her forms but also by their conception and the meaning and semantic viewpoint that are invested in them. Her works are most clearly characterised by their strongly narrative content, while her talent lies in the sensitivity with which she models her pieces, breathing life into the forms she creates. She is gifted with rich inventiveness and the ability to embody her personal feelings, opinions and approaches to life in the material she uses. As a figurative artist, she expresses herself through physical forms, figures, the faces of men and women as well as the forms of animals, most often those of birds or hybrid creatures.
In Radova's work, inventive playfulness and gentle irony take on serious meanings. The scale of a piece is not important if it concerns a universal thought, as can be seen in the case of the work featuring a small figure with upraised arms standing on a large green leaf which suffices to evoke the call for the protection of nature. A characteristic feature of Radová's work is that of figures joined in clusters, and sometimes an individual figure climbs up over other figures as in the work: The Successful One. A physical pyramid such as this can also slip and collapse, of course, in which case the higher the The Successful One has climbed, the further he must now fall. A similar idea may be found in Generation, a sculpture composed of figures that pile up on one another in order of generation. While the basic structure still corresponds to the order of nature, those who stand on the shoulders of their ancestors scramble upwards to the top of a protective wall behind which, however, there lies a gaping abyss.
Sarka Radova is able to model parts of the body such as the head, arms and legs on a minute scale. She also creates imaginary portraits which come across as psychological studies, and composes movable groups of free sculptures. The figures that Radová entitled Riders on a Saddle Roof merely dream that they are in the saddle; in fact they are sitting on a saddle roof that falls away sharply. Even those people who appear closest to each other and each other's lives can pass one another by and each be alone.
These metamorphoses and their metaphorical meanings contain a memento that is expressed vividly, but never didactically. They demonstrate that Sarka Radova takes an interest in what is happening in the world and with the world, a place she perceives as a labyrinth with a need for the paradise of the heart. She is critical and expresses herself in a way that is intrinsic to her, through an original language of plasticity. It only remains to add that she has participated successfully in exhibitions in the Czech Republic and other countries. She received a gold medal at the International Exhibition in the Czech town of Jablonec nad Nisou and a silver medal at the international exhibition of ceramic art in Vallauris, France.
Ceramics Art and Perception
written by PhDr. Eva Petrova for Ceramic Art and Perception 1998/32 (Australia)
© 2008 Sarka Radova, ArtForum / ICZ a.s.