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Iva Troj | Paintings from the Journal, Embrace and Dancer Series

2013 Towry Best of East England Award Winner, 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 very strange 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 I came to find the clues to Japanese culture. 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.”


Hands / Size: 60×60 cm / Technique: inks, pastels, acrylics, glazes on canvas


Embrace Series – Me; Size: 66×71 cm / Technique: pastels, acrylics and glazes on canvas


Water Under No Bridge / Technique: pastels, inks, pencils, acrylics, glazes on canvas


Journal Series I / Size: 60×40 cm / Technique / hybrid: color pencils, transparent paper, acrylics, glazes on canvas


Dancer Series Diptych // Size: 71×55 x 2 // Technique: inks, pastels, acrylics, gold leaf on canvas.