Ordinary pictures of an unordinary reality

During the 1980s, Ivana Lomová worked as an illustrator for a book and magazine publisher (more than twenty-five books, mostly children?s books, have been published with her illustrations) and also worked on animated films. Her work from that time (most of which was pastel drawings) can be characterized as full of witty ideas and her special brand of humor. The attribute ?romantic? is also appropriate for the author?s early work, though it was, in fact, more of a conscious simulation of romanticism. The year 1997 was important and decisive for further development, when she had her first solo exhibition of paintings in the Malá Špálovka gallery in Prague. During that year, Ivana Lomová began working with photography. She mostly used photography from her family album, and she was inspired above all by snapshots from her childhood. She never used hyper-realistic approaches ? ?copying and enlarging?, or ?re-painting? photography into a picture. She was interested in combining the ?objectivity? of the photographic shot with the ?subjectivity? of her own memories. In 1999, Ivana Lomová began using oil paint. This technique in general, due to its time-consuming nature, creates a sort of spontaneous distance between the artist and her work. And it was this seemingly merely external circumstance that transformed Ivana Lomová?s work, which had thus far been subjective and intimate. Her pictures became more objective and precise in their means of expression. Nevertheless, for Ivana Lomová, the most important thing has always been topic. Most often, this topic is related to her family, childhood, children. Cyclical work, in which the pictures are connected on the basis of a certain selected thematic area, is also important for her.


This cycle came about in 1997. The pictures, e.g. At Slapy, 1997, In Florida, 1997, Phantasm, 1997, Life is Good, 1996 were done while the author was still working with pastels. The most common theme is recreation, rest, a pleasant, or rather seemingly pleasant event and experience ? beach scenes, pools, a visit to a park, a walk. Photography from the author?s childhood, when she lived with her parents in the United States, served as the model for many of the pictures. The pictures are serene, though sometimes heavily ironic as well. In spite of their certain dose of sarcasm, they remain forgiving of the joys, desires and obsessions of children, men and women.


In 1999 Ivana Lomová completed the cycle of pictures called Men and Women, which relates to the events of her life at that time as well as to her interest in feminism. The cycle is devoted to the issue of ?masculine and feminine identity?. For example, the pictures California Boys, 1998 or Mánesers, 1999 examine masculine identity with an irony that is nearly corrosive at times. The author intentionally uses romantic scenes and attributes and references to pop culture superhero idols, but also, for example, to the well-known works of Josef Mánes, Morning and Evening. Some of these pictures remain connected to the author?s early work in many ways. Their ironic and pseudo-romantic spirit contrasts sharply with the expressive yellow portraits of female faces ? Yellow Faces, 1998. These portraits, conversely, add anew aspect to Ivana Lomová?s work thus far. They are emphatic in their means of expression and existential in content.


This series relates in one way or another to the author?s childhood, even in cases where the author finds her inspiration in photographs of her daughter, with whom she often identifies. In this cycle, Lomová also utilized her experiences with psychoanalysis. Pictures such as: Child Inside, 2000, At the Window, 2000, Christmas, 2000, Sunday Afternoon, 1998, Under the Covers, 2000, Irenka, 1999 and the later pictures: Clouds, 2005, Twelve, 2005, Reader, 2005 are portraits of parents, relatives, or scenes from family gatherings. They conceal strong emotional subtexts and the author?s profoundly experienced relationships to the figures and events depicted. For example, the seemingly calm picture, Reader, of a girl lying on a balcony engrossed in a book, has a strong dose of existentially experienced reality within it. In the same way, a fragment of a girl turned with her back to the viewer in the picture Clouds initiates a feeling of loneliness and confrontation between the child and the endlessness of nature. Similarly, the picture Twelve, though it depicts the joyful world of a girl of just twelve, conceals the anxiety and uncertainty of an adolescent girl.


During the years 2002-2005, a series of pictures of married couples called Till death do us part appeared. The titles of the pictures consisted of the initials of the people depicted. The models for the pictures were not photographs found in magazines or photography studios, but rather, the author chose her models from among her friends and photographed married couples she knew well herself (for the purpose of painting their portraits later). The double portraits, which are at first glance ?ordinary?, neutral, realistically rendered, lacking in expressive hyperbole, contain a great amount of information in their details and in the realia used, and conceal the drama of women and men who have decided to join their fates together. The viewer can gradually read into the complicated relationships which exist between partners.


In 2005, the cycle called The Sea came into being. Many of these pictures were painted based on the photographs Ivana Lomová took during her summer trip to the quiet English seaside town of Worthing ? to a place Londoners have retiring to for years. The empty beaches with figures of one or two lonely observers, the exposed sea bottom during long periods of low tide, time which has stopped. Old people walking on the beach with their dogs or resting on benches, look out onto the endlessness of the sea, which recalls the endlessness which perhaps awaits them. These are often merely fragments of human faces and figures, suggestions of stories which the viewer can fill in by himself. Solitude, dreaming, memories, a feeling of peace in anticipation of death. The pictures have a strongly existential atmosphere. Beauty, comfort and sadness are connected in a special way within them. It can be said that their inner content corresponds to the work of Edward Hopper.


This is not a matter of not individual pictures connected by a specific topic, like in Ivana Lomová?s other cycles, but of a pre-conceived whole, a sort of reel of pictures recalling a film. Melancholy pictures of landscapes alternate with pictures of a sleeping woman?s face. The cycle came about during a time when Ivana Lomová was occupied with dream analysis and wrote down her dreams regularly. The pictures are landscapes which recall dream visions. They are not, however, an attempt to ?re-draw? or ?depict? the dreams. Quite the opposite, in fact. They melancholy landscapes are dream schemas, they are some sort of dreamt-up daydreams, which, however, could enter into the author?s dreams at night.


Ivana Lomová?s most recent work is the cycle of pictures of tropical and subtropical nature, which came about during the years 2005-2006. Some pictures were painted in Italy, but most of them were inspired by a trip to Guatemala ? e.g. Rio Dulce, 2006, Landscape with Monkey, 2006, Departure, 2006, In the Meadow, 2006. It is as if the author painted these tropical landscapes in a state of intoxication. The pictures are saturated with strong sensual perceptions and experiences, and are pervaded by amazement at the mysteries of the natural world, astonishment at the grandiosity, power and energy of nature. Around the year 2000, the artistic work of Ivana Lomová crystallized into a position of ?objective realism?. It was as if objects spoke for themselves, without emotion, without passion (with the exception of the yellow portraits of women?s faces). Like a detective taking note of clues to events, Ivana Lomová observes ?life? and gives it a chance to speak. Instead of a ?magnifying glass?, however, she uses photography. She places a photographic snapshot between herself and reality, which helps her to observe the reality surrounding her in a pragmatic and objective way. But during the actual process of painting, for Ivana Lomová it is important to return to the photographed reality that which the photography had removed from it ? its hidden, invisible and unconscious contents. It can be said that the author always interprets and transposes the photo shots in some way. She omits, selects and adds. Above all she adds her understanding, her experiences, her memories. Thus originates a picture which provides not only a deeper, more precise and more truthful testimony to the objective world than photography manages to do, but also above all reveals something about its author. With the exception of her early work and some of her romantically themed pictures, Ivana Lomová maintains pragmatism and reserve in her testimonies. Using realistic artistic means, she aims to create an ordinary picture of ordinary reality. Through her pictures, she lets this ?ordinariness? speak, she gives it a ?mouth?. And ?ordinariness? gives testimony quietly, unobtrusively and in a very un-ordinary manner. Because reality is always unordinary. Prague, November 2006

Milena Slavická
(katalog autorky, vydal KANT r. 2007; 1999/11/30)