About the artist:
  • 2013 Towry Best of East England Award Winner and Brighton-based Iva Troj seamlessly incorporates her vast experience of traditional painting techniques with postmodern elements to create engaging Renaissance‐style works that challenge the notion of societal conformity.

    Knowledge of traditional art techniques were first inspired by the necessity to fit within Cold War aesthetics of social realism. Alongside this, however, lay an acute perception of the reality existent beneath external structures:

    “I’ve been told I have artistic talents since I was a little girl. The problem was I spent most of my time worrying about the meaning of it all. I grew up in a rough neighborhood, in the outskirts of Plovdiv. At times it felt like the whole place was full of violent men. My family was very strict, loving and protective of me so I managed to keep my head above water. I had to. I had talents and with talents came purpose, I was told. Art confused the life out of me nevertheless. I searched for answers and inspiration in books and magazines, but they were all full of submissive naked women, always looking in mirrors combing their hair, getting ready for bed, being chased, seduced, on their knees, or laid bare everywhere possible. They all looked like dolls in a strange play that a man somewhere was directing. I so wanted to just go in there and change them all.”

    Troj has long been inspired by Japanese art and culture – traditional and contemporary – evident in the strange characters and icons which populate her landscapes alongside nude renaissance figures. It would be straightforward to assimilate Troj’s work with some sort of allegory. However, the artist is open in expressing the danger in utilizing this as a tool that is often too culture specific. Instead by breaking up classical motifs, Iva Troj introduces parallel stories in a postmodern shift, binding the inescapably contemporary with revived histories.

    “My grandmother used to talk about ”wabi­‐sabi”. I asked her what it was and she told me a story about a lion tamer. Beauty is ”imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” she said. I am not sure how she learned these things. She never talked about China or Japan, “intimacy”, or appreciation of the ”ingenuous integrity of natural objects”. That was not how she spoke. Instead of using fancy words she showed me things and explained their beauty to me. Her house and her garden were full of evidence of beautiful imperfection. I had no clue that these ideas represented a very Japanese view of beauty that I was later going to adopt.”


About the work of the artist:
  • Troj’s body of work is in constant transition.

    “I keep rearranging my work process, so preparation is really important. A process that is constantly changing implies focus and a clear definition of what the imagery represents. The themes vary somewhat, but challenging the heteronormative perspective has always been central. I am quite uncomfortable with conventional truth, especially the issue of gender conformity. The people in my paintings, especially the nudes, strive to represent beauty that exists beyond the subjective view.”

    Her view of artistic work is relative to that illusive definition of the role of art in society.

    “Like everything else, art has a role to play, and an end goal to it. For me personally, good art is an act of generosity. Artists put their own path to self‐awareness on display so that other people can take a shortcut in their own journey. I see art as a collective effort, that is, the product of an ecology of talent, and not one single person. That is why collaborations with other artists constitute almost 50% of my work. There are too many artists out there who see themselves as isolated phenomena. Artists who build brand empires around their own ego contribute very little to the growth of humanity, no matter how clever their art is.”