(Bratislava, Slovakia, 1993)
Zuzana Svatik is a Slovakian rising artist whose practice focuses on sculpture and painting to create objects that challenge the traditional conception of ceramics as a beautiful decorative object. Zuzana’s work has a plastic richness based on a bold personal dis- course characterized by psychological depth and activist social concern.
“I work mainly with the mediums of ceramics, drawing and painting. Theoretically, I am concerned with issues of gender equality, the search for one’s identity, Eastern European gender stereotypes and prejudices, the ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ natures of people, things, activities and expectations of dominance and submission. My work connects these contrasts and analyzes the pressure, the gaze, the tension, the ambiguity and the subsequent liberation of the object, its narrativity and its archetypal nature.
The theoretical dimension of my work is grounded in practice, and by ironizing these historical, biological, and social interconnections, I create a reflection of my own personal experience with them. I believe that a vase does not have to be decorated only with flowers and abstract patterns, I believe that through a committed painting I can convey important and positive messages, reflect reality and the contemporary situation, as well as emphasize the potential of applied artsand ceramics as an opinion-forming medium of democratic values in society.
As an artist, I am deeply concerned about these problems because I ask myself: why decorate vases with flowers? Why obey the ideal of beauty in the applied arts? Why give up the ability to reflect everyday reality with its social and political tensions?
As for the morphology of the vase itself, I choose a basic, simple and functional shape, because I believe that all possible vase shapes are already made, and looking for a new one would be a use- less and uninteresting effort for me. I choose the vase not on the basis of its immediate function, but on the basis of the symbolism it represents in our context. I perceive the vase as an archety- pe, an object in our homes and living rooms immediately linked to feelings of home.
However, it is also a metaphor for the stereotypical view of women as housewives, vain and deco- rators. The morphology and choice of material, and above all the ceramic medium itself, is an indirect representation of stereotypes about femininity and masculinity, about feminine and masculine art and design; the rational and pure form is attributed to the activity of the man in contrast to the emotional, intuitive, natural, gentle and irrational activity of the woman represented by the superficial decoration of the object. The object reflects these trends, ideas and established practices, its mockery being irrational and ironic. These vases do not lose their utility function and therefore are easy to apply in those homes that have the spirit of the aforementioned values.
My work revolves around gender and social prejudice in Eastern European countries and shows the influence of this environment and way of thinking. It also reflects my impressions about society, people, personal identity, popular culture, social constructions, the denomination of what is acceptable and unacceptable, good and bad”.