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Black Oak
  • Artist Klara Kristalova (Czech - Swedish, *1967)
  • TitleBlack Oak
  • Dating 2010
  • Technique/MaterialGlazed stoneware
  • AcquisitionPurchase, 2010
  • CategorySculpture
  • Inventory NumberGKM 2010-09
  • Rights and ReproductionKlara Kristalova/BUS 2012©
  • Display StatusNot shown in the museum
Description
Exhibition History
To look at Kristalova’s glazed stoneware sculptures is to walk into a nightmarish story. Her unique imagery entangles the viewer in a circle of negotiation and renegotiation. Her figures are often teetering between meanings: innocence meets danger, the beautiful meets the repulsive, the alluringly available meets the repulsive darkness.

Kristalova’s sculptures can be likened to happenings or mental states. They are frequently elusive, and there is a strong sense that the characters will transform or disappear from view if we turn away. But hers is also a universe that accommodates some very specific characters. One of them is a young girl, veering between childhood and adulthood—confident, fierce, yet vulnerable and edgy. Another is half human, half animal.

Having begun as a painter, Kristalova now works consistently in three dimensions in glazed ceramic and stoneware. A technically flawless aesthetic is not her concern; the point of her working process is to portray impulses and capture expressions. Kristalova combines an exploration of the material’s inherent qualities with pushing the boundaries of the possible. The sudden lurches are the result of an intuitive working method where she slowly builds up her sculptures piece by piece. The preliminary sketches—done in watercolours, paint, and ink—are often visible in the three-dimensional forms. Working with ceramic materials means that the artist cannot always fully control the process. It is not until the prolonged firing process is finished that the results of the form and glaze are certain.

In Black Oak (2009), we see a figure who is becoming one with Nature, slowly being incorporated into the tree’s dark branches. The face has already been transformed and solidified into gaping blackness. Some moths have gathered in the sparse treetop. The bare white feet contrast sharply with the dark ground. The title alludes to the characteristic darkening of the wood after centuries of being buried or waterlogged. There is a directness about the glazed surfaces that invites the viewer to touch, and which runs counter to the motif’s dark shades.

Anna Hyltze from The Collection Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg 2014