Griffin Art Prize winner 2012 completes her journey with solo show


On September 6th 2014 the winner of the inaugural Griffin Art Prize will open her solo exhibition in the Griffin Gallery, London. Alzbeta Jaresova has been working towards this show since she took up residency in the artist’s studio in February. Here she talks about the inspiration behind her art and what she has learnt from her experience as artist-in-residence.

Alzbeta Jaresova

Born in Prague, Czech Republic, Alzbeta’s fine art studies have been abroad. First majoring in Painting and Drawing at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, her postgraduate studies were an MA in Fine Art at Camberwell College of Art, University of the Arts London from 2011-2012. Since graduating she has exhibited at the annual Future Map exhibition as well as being selected as one of the featured artists in this year’s Catlin Guide. In November 2012 Alzbeta won the Griffin Art Prize which gave her a six month studio residency at the Griffin Gallery, culminating in a solo exhibition this September.

Artwork and ideas

History and its impact on our perception of time and place, has always been an interest for me. My earlier works explored history quite literally, using concrete symbols and references to specific events and places. Influenced by familial and collective memories of the socialist era in what was Czechoslovakia (which continues to have a substantial presence in present day Czech Republic), I wanted to explore concepts of confinement, control and restriction through imagery that directly referenced that period.

Over time these concrete references became less important and a wider context took over. I felt I could explore the connection between history, memory and the function of social structures by allowing my work to communicate on a more subconscious level. I explore the relationship between figure and space, where architecture becomes a symbol for social structure and control. I merge the confinements I sense in my environment with personal and collective memories to form my own visual language.

I use both drawing and sculpture to investigate my ideas. The protagonists in my drawings are placed in enclosed structures, which exert or suggest a power over their gesture. The sculptures take on the form of small-scale models, which together with the drawings form an architectural proposal; a mock up for a hypothetical environment, never intended to be realised.
Griffin Art Prize Studio Residency 2013

I was welcomed to the studio at the Griffin Gallery with a full stock of art materials from Winsor & Newton, Conté à Paris and Liquitex. I had the opportunity to experiment with different media in a well-lit and accommodating space. The first month of the residency was spent doing just that, experimenting with different materials, specifically venturing into using Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil colour. Since then I have made several paintings, formulating my own language with the use of a subdued colour scheme. I enjoy the increased ability to manipulate the atmosphere in my paintings by using a specific colour palette of mostly earth colours, including siennas, umbers and ochres.

I am looking to achieve in painting what thus far I have managed only in drawing. I am experimenting with using thin washes of oil paint to develop images that allow for a play between the image and its ground. I have developed these washes with different mediums, using Winsor & Newton’s Sansodor, Liquin and Artist’s Painting Medium. This has allowed me to manipulate the drying times of different layers of washes, adjusting the medium according to the complexity of the layer.

Areas of the painting remain undeveloped in order to allow the preliminary charcoal drawing to show through and hint at the reality it represents. I am interested in creating spaces, where sharp architectural forms merge with the organic shapes of the figures; the architectural spaces enveloping the figures to such an extent that they seem to become an inseparable part of their bodies. Alongside developing works in oil, I have also been working on drawings in graphite and several architectural models, researching the materials and methods I could employ in these structures.


My studio is on the same floor as the Innovation & Development laboratory which has given me insights into products and processes that I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. I have had the opportunity to test products and contribute to the chemists’ research. The tearoom and gallery downstairs have enabled me to meet artists and other visitors. Please take a look at my blog.

I am looking forward to my solo exhibition in September and plan to continue to develop my project afterwards in all three media.