Nikola Emma Ryšavá has exhibited her works in four different countries and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague – where she found her true calling in sculptures. She thinks that the most satisfying exhibitions are the ones held in public spaces, where she can see people outside of the art crowd interact with her art.
She won our open call, Alone, Together, with the sculptures ‘Love is Blindness’ and ‘Connections.’
Congrats! How did it feel when you got the email saying that you were one of our three open call winners?
Thank you, it felt great! I am not going to lie, these quarantine times have been hard, and there were times I did feel kind of lost and anxious. With all of my upcoming art shows canceled or postponed – this period of uncertainty is having a long-term impact on the arts.
Winning your open call truly lifted my spirits, and set my focus back on my art practice, where it should be. At the end of the day, I am lucky to be able to do what I love even during the pandemic.
What were your reflections around the theme of Alone, Together?
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Alone Together was the theme of your open call. I actually named a whole series of my work in 2018 the same, so I knew immediately what artworks I should submit.
At the time, I was trying to capture my thoughts and feelings about relationships, and stumbled upon a social-psychological book, Alone Together by Sherry Turkle. The book discusses how today, in a world full of technology and social networks that are enabling easy communication with anyone on the planet, the sense of alienation and loneliness is ironically stronger than it has ever been.
I found it interesting that right now, with quarantine and social distancing, Alone Together means something completely different to me. It’s no longer something with a negative connotation. We are all literally forced to be alone, but by doing that, we are helping each other, we are doing something for a greater good, and that brings us together.
You submitted two pieces to our open call, can you tell us about ‘Love is Blindness’ and ‘Connections’? Are they related to one another somehow?
Yes, both artworks are from my series about relationships and intimacy. Influenced by my personal experience and a bunch of other artists and artworks, I was trying to look at the subject from different points of view.
In ‘Love is Blindness’ I was reflecting on my own frustrations and took inspiration from Rene Magritte’s famous painting ‘The Lovers.’ There are several interpretations of this painting. But the one that appealed to me was that it represents frustration over our desires, and the inability to achieve true intimacy, as we can’t reveal the true nature of our intimate companions.
The sculpture ‘Connections’ was inspired by the end of one of your own relationships, how is it building a sculpture out of your personal story and seeing your experiences manifest in another physical form?
Working on my sculptures is often therapeutic. I try to deal with unpleasant emotions and experiences; it is a way for me to come to terms with them and learn to live with them. At art openings and presentations, where I am forced to admit publicly how personal my artworks are, it can be a bit awkward.
The idea behind ‘Connections’ is a beautiful narrative of the textiles, representing connections and feelings, that slowly wither as time, and hard weather goes by. Where did you initially exhibit this, and how does it feel seeing the textiles disappear around the figures?
The first time I exhibited this work was during my studies, and I have exhibited the work at other shows since then. The connections between the figures did not disappear entirely yet. But I like the fact that the sculpture is always changing and has never exhibited in the same shape. It is both satisfying and a bit emotional to watch it decay.
Your work is surreal, grotesque, and sometimes macabre – what draws you to this visual language?
My artworks are connected to my emotions. My head can be a wonderful place, but also a very dark one. That is why my artworks are kind of all over the place — sometimes silly and playful, other times horror-like. It mirrors what I feel.