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Elzbieta Grosseova - Ebb and flow

A constant and sensitive examination of outer and inner space, formulating her own emotions through the substance of sculpture: that is the Czech sculptor El¾bieta Grosseová. In her ceramic works she continually raises fundamental questions of human existence and man's place in the modern world. In recent work she has increasingly turned to the symbolism of natural phenomena, which are in their essence associated with all of that.

El¾bieta Grosseová's art underwent major developments at the beginning of the 1990s when she made her craters. Of course, it is impossible to ignore her earlier work, ceramic sculptures made of empty clothes that pointed to the ethereal nature of the human soul and the insignificance of the human body. An understanding and indication of the void, where what cannot be seen is more important than what we see. While her craters draw on that earlier period, they mark a highly significant breakthrough in Grosseová's work.

There was also a change in the material she used, which is now mainly fireclay, and a focus on simple conical shapes that anticipated her subsequent work. It is that form, standing on its point, which creates an impression of instability, the edge of the centre of gravity where a fall, a loss of balance is always imminent. The cone can also be viewed as a reference to an archetypal vessel, and a motif of penetration. In these works there is not only material form, but above all light structures that create a counterweight to the objects themselves. There are also sculptures that evoke the skeletons of mysterious creatures spewed out from the Earth's magma, its lava. A reminder of metamorphoses, life and death, and ruin, when danger can suddenly appear. The forces of nature also became themes for the first time. In Grosseová's work they have an existential aspect and powerfully symbolise personal experience. That primarily concerns her Wave Tsunami pieces, placed in the philosophical context of the contemporary feelings of man. There are also themes based on pine cones, a form that is a kind of natural variation on her conical sculptures. For Grosseová the pine cone is interesting in its metamorphosis from its closed form to the moment at which it opens, changing its appearance, which evokes the symbolism of birth and death. These works again show how her sculptures are both highly conceptual and emotionally profound.

A visit to the USA has introduced a new technology in Grosseová's work: paperclay, offering many opportunities for her art. Paperclay has also allowed her to make works that draw in part on her conical constructions, resulting in pieces that make use of views into the space within, the contrast between what is inside and what is on the surface. An opening offers a glimpse of a curved space that seems unending. With this El¾bieta Grosseová also establishes links with a number of personal emotions and timeless spiritual and cosmic phenomena. Her most recent work, again associated with the forces of nature, is very surprising. Her latest sculptures are expressive sculptural masses that represent the energy present in various natural phenomena: volcanoes, whirlpools, tornadoes. Forces that often change the character of a landscape and threaten man, yet simultaneously exert a powerful attraction, a fascination upon him: extremes that are often present in the human soul. The works themselves represent a new principle in Grosseová's art, as their clean lines and modelling and their surfaces treated with white kaolin make these pieces almost minimalist. Their power then rests in the purity of form that is simultaneously and powerfully emotional. Ebb and flow, a rhythm that is different each time, the uniqueness of all that passes. It is in that personal search and preoccupation that El¾bieta Grosseová constantly offers us new perspectives. In her exceptional and distinctive works she presents an extremely sensitive account of her doubts and her searching that says much about ourselves and our world.

Zdenìk Freisleben

© 2009 Elzbieta Grosseova, ArtForum / ICZ a.s.
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