ArticlesCeramic Art and Perception 1998/32 (Australia)
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.
Prague Post 10/99
Sarka Radova belongs to the third generation of a family that holds an important place in Czech art. She is a middle generation artist, sculptor and will present her newest porcelain figures in the Gallery Fronta. Some of them are rich of fantasy, others are playful. The collection of statues is in the same spirit as the several earlier small-scale sculptures which, I mean above all those inspired by J. A. Comenius and children.
Sarka Radova devotes herself to ceramic art; it is increasingly clear that she still tends towards free sculpture on a larger scale. She continues creating her works out of porcelain. This material is suitable for painting. It can also be combined with other materials, e.g. papier maché. As a figurative artist, she expresses herself through physical forms, figures, the faces of men and women, animals, most often those of birds or hybrid creatures. She is fascinated by metamorphosed forms. The set of four figures "Transformation of a Candle" presents a remarkable metamorphosis: The first figure stands on its head in a position indicating a candle…, the fourth actually turns into a candle, melting away like wax. A characteristic feature of Radova work`s is that of figures joined in clusters, such as "The Successful One". A similar idea may be in "Generation", a sculpture composed of figures that pile up on one another in order of generation.
The exhibition takes place from 30th April till 16th May 1999.
Sarka Radova pictures the surrounding world with vivid, visual, factual and warm reality, while changing times, places, actions and situations. The artistic effect is achieved through contrast of double viewing, with a resulting work of art of unusual intensity, penetrating force and attraction.
The obvious effort to stick to realistic expression does not strip the works of fantastic features; the apparent striving for style differentiation is surrounded by a cluster of notions intensifying the internal contents and giving sensual fullness to the expressions both very gentle and pronounced and explicit, with dominating figural motives: Individual components of the artist's works are shown in full range, variety of styles, diversity of expression, hectic, captivating, comical, as well as lofty and bearing an impressive moral message.
The first is the topic, its size and framing in form of an object, surrounding architecture and fantastic features in the objects consisting of elements freely playing with actual shapes and dimensions, reshaping them in an unusual and unexpected context using a play of contrasts.
The works are elaborately made, paying attention to charming and graceful details as well as elegance. The details help to create an air of quiet comfort with the utmost objectivity which allows Sarka Radova to assemble forms and to balance colors with a precision typical for still lifes: It is the time of individual elements of the theme, carefully and precisely pictured details, likeness of the depicted objects to real ones, but also images of things in space, symbolic interpretations of shown objects, numerous techniques employed and varied surface finishing.
Each detail is placed as if in reality, with all elements together creating a unity of contrasts based on the opposites. Still, the theme remains understandable and symbols and decorative arrangement anchored in realism. The tiny details are relaxed to become vivid and realistic; her sense of space and atmosphere allows her to render many minor things bringing the particular scene to life.
It worth noticing that Sarka Radova was able to render depth even to work consisting of many details, how she gradually deepened her knowledge of nature and life and how landscape with an action became one of her favorite topics. The landscape is vast, though reduced into a confined space, while suggesting the actual depth of the "stage". Sarka Radova does not overlook a single detail of nature's world - plants, animals and people do not indicate just depth or unity of the environment and atmosphere. The world of her dreams and visions, tender and poetic, evokes the image of life. In order to stress motion, the element of comparison is left out, allowing her to avoid direct contrast between the opposing parts and to express individual stages of one action at different levels of the work of art.
She made them more real and impressive, on the level of different and symbolic existence. The poetic landscape inclines to dreamlike realism: plants and animals are shown accurately while her inquisitiveness about them has turned into an urgent appeal for exploration of the whole world and all its components. All scenes, minor phenomena paraphrasing and imitating specific motives, should in their thematic context and graded dimensions result in a so far unknown and entirely individual artistic value. Her new view of the world is based on feelings or dreams.
However, Sarka Radova has exceeded even the limits of this genre, capable of expressing colors, light and outspoken joy of life, the world of poetic visions, idyllic scenes tender as a dream, with fairy tale and fantastic features, whose individual parts are conditional on one another. She succeeded in finding of a new prospective: her minor works, small scale pieces, are even more absorbing, plausible and truthful because they are natural, fresh, quaintly picturesque and the eye does not wander from one detail to another. Her works remind of the influence of traditional folk fairy tales, abounding in burlesque and dreamy motives. Narration is surely present in the works in form of a comical, witty or ironically pointed story. The aspect of irony, be it in form of allusion, parody or grotesque, always includes a trifle of parody, typically disparate and exaggerating, often trivial and a certain dynamics between funny and comical. The hidden thought, playful, serious and comical at the same time, is vivid and a bit crazy, bordering on caricature and becoming farcically burlesque. The exaggerated precision of details makes the narration more general and creates types, using also the transposition of one world into another.
Sarka Radova is interested in reality with precisely shown contours and elaborate details; however her works include a transfiguring and poetic vision of the same reality. It is a metaphor, a series of metamorphoses, stressing individual details of human character and fate rather than the person as a whole. Her figures bear features of both caricature and grotesque due to the depiction of funny and picturesque sides of reality, one typical feature in one particular moment.
In this period she achieved the ability to generalize, create types, and accurately depict essential features of a character with an expressive force. She used perhaps an incidental initial impression, where a tiny detail reveals the simplest of human qualities. It is much more relaxed, impressive and distinctive, determining anecdotic composition.
Sarka Radova has often demonstrated her observation skills: her modeling is very vivid, detailed and self-confidently playing with distortions, joining workmanship and strength of forms with the accentuated and impressive artistic message - as it takes hold of the essence.
The given form is transformed into a living and specific individual with features which may be common to a whole category of being. Also her ability to create types is articulate: still, she has got her own sense of motion and dramatic impact which turn her attention to other topics. She establishes varied dramatic situations which may result in encounters between various characters within the work of art, appropriating to them their own dramatic functions. Especially distinctive is her depiction of typical features of a group of phenomena, subsequently anticipating some social critical trends.
The composition intentionally aimed to depict the real Czech society whose critical zeal focused on many blatant abuses, injustice, stupidity and pitilessness. At the expense of simple logic of action, but without pathetically exaggerated dialogue, she turned to other topics - the mass of tiny figures is a visual contemporary morality about human selfishness: she uses a different, less didactic and more artistically impressive, instrument - a symbol. The figures are complemented both by the structure of action and their arrangement, as well as by the employed technique and composition. The symbol's presence imbues the artistic structure.
The interest in motion, action and excitement of the scene indicates a new trend. Ecstatic gestures, crowded figures in excited motion, vision of a fatal moment, powerful forces in movements and emotional contents interwoven in the composition hide symbols usually associated with allegorical topics. The detailed parable is inspired by the present time, which has released new forces.
Now morality has become a criterion to view a work of art: overwhelming dramatic movement of the bustling crowd, the zeal intensified by the moving whole and excited expressions of the figures, the world in which tiny characters in supporting roles, episodes and allegories join the everyday reality. Her sense for depiction of a scene brings into it a dimension of historical time and the work of art is understood as a mirror of the world apparent, as a carrier of an optical instrument designed by the time itself.
Using repetition, it captures a special character of the historical reality. In the past Sarka Radova paid the same attention even to the things not involved in the story, while relaxing compact composition and avoiding seamless connection between individual parts, with her interest focused on vivid mighty figures, pronounced , impressive and emotional. Recently a new nuance in her work has emerged: her works are very visual and modest, she seeks greatness in simple and natural expression while shaping the action and the mood into monumental sculpting lines, in legend-like generality, without specific anchorage in time or place. Her generous and simply sculpted forms, as well as groups of more robust and distinctive figures, fine contours and deep shades of most compact masses imply her careful observation. The material looks more natural due to soft shaping while light and open space offers soft and airy background exuding the feeling of life contentment. The intimate atmosphere suggests a relaxed harmony and as an instructive humanism lesson it has become the most crucial component of the work, although rather intuitively than properly expounded.