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In space and time

HARSHINI VAKKALANKA
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ART Artist Eva Schlegel feels that learning to read the codes in art takes you closer to life

Experimentation is keyEva SchlegelPhoto: Sampath Kumar G.P.
Experimentation is keyEva SchlegelPhoto: Sampath Kumar G.P.

If anything, Eva Schlegel is an unusual artist. She works with photographs on lead, text on glass, blurred photographs or films projected on propellers.

One look is enough for the viewers to become curious about what she's trying to say, which is fairly obvious in most cases. “Abstraction is a way of bringing something to a point and concentrate on the very idea by getting rid of all ornamentation,” says Eva, who is exhibiting her works for the first time in India at Gallery Ske. “I think art culminates in abstract beauty. If you can read what's coded in the art, then you will gain a new concept of life. It can create a new world intellectually and physically.”

Eva has been exploring art since childhood. “I grew up with three siblings and often, I would go into my room to draw because whenever I drew I would forget myself. My room became my favourite space. I also came from an economically aware background, so I sought freedom from it, I wanted to do something different,” she recounts.

Eva graduated from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and taught art and photography at the academy from 1997 to 2006. Her works have been exhibited across Europe in art forums like Neue Galerie, Joanneum, Graz; the Museum Moderner, Kunst, Vienna; and the Museum fur Lackkunst, Munster. Though Eva says she is interested in concept art and modern art, she maintains that her work is original. If there are a few threads that connect all her works, they would be space and perception. She has also displayed her trademark photographs on lead that usually show a man or a woman flying, suspended in air. These photographs were all taken in space academies or flying centres in Europe. “I was searching for examples of stereotypical portrayal of women in magazines. They were always slim beauties, so I wanted to see what was left after the face is blurred. There were a range of poses all trying to create an image of how women should be. I don't think all women should be like that.”

She used the same concept on text by blurring pages of text that are then printed on glass using the silk- screen printing process. Eva finally observed that blurred text creates a flat image, while blurred photos had a certain depth, they contained space. “I'm interested in studying phenomenological space. I also love architecture, which creates different concepts of living or life,” says Eva.

She studies space in different ways: through her floating sculpture of balloons, stacked mirrors in metal cabinet casing, and film projections of a suspended man on propellers. In the balloon sculpture, a camera installed over the door captures people entering the room and projects their image on the floor. After a while, the image bursts into pieces.

“The balloon sculpture is a playful, interactive work; it is also an analogy of life and death. In the flying images, where everything is weightless and light, I'm exploring the relationship between flying and falling,” These works mirror Eva's own memories of failure in her artistic experiments. “Experimentation is really important for me. I love the playful way of trying something, and getting lost in it. ”

Eva will soon set out to work on a book that will profile all the women artists in Beijing. “I spent six months in L.A. studying the women artists in their studio. Not only do I portray them, I also show their working conditions. I was invited to Beijing to study the art scene from inside. I try to understand the idea and bring it out in the right context.”

Eva's works will be on view at Gallery Ske, 2, Berlie Street, Langford Town, until March 17. For more information, call 41120873.

HARSHINI VAKKALANKA

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