Nina Jeza, Artists & Poor's

Saša Bezjak, Love is the Devil (if you believe Francis Bacon)

Saša Bezjak is an established Slovenian artist working as an art teacher, painter and sculptor. The latter also lends to her avid interest in various materials, which act as building blocks in her works. She uses these to create drawings, paintings, sculptures and embroideries.

The subject matter of Saša Bezjak’s works is almost entirely tied to intimacy, personal relationships, the inner aspects of human corporeality, which is essentially condensed into a primaeval, even primitive simplicity. The relationship towards corporeality, both one’s own and that of the Other, is therefore also most authentically expressed through primary forms of artistic creation. Saša Bezjak’s apparent “naive primitivism” transforms itself into the most noble means of expression through her rough drafts, exploring the eros as the primary human instinct that first touches us in early childhood and then shapes our entire lives.

Besides interpersonal relationships, an important role in the creative process of Saša Bezjak is played by her relationship to various materials since they elevate such basic elements as fabric and thread into art objects with her subtility of handling. This often takes the form of recycled fabric as her works are made on old bedsheets or tablecloths, as well as smaller decorative napkins, into which the artist incorporates her drawings, thus giving the used material a new life.

The works of Saša Bezjak bear the emotional charge of the experience of being a woman. And if emotions are “primitive”, then it is “merely” reason that restrains us from becoming too primal or, as we like to say, going wild. This is exactly what ties this exhibition to Francis Bacon, the one who transformed the grotesqueness of intimate human life – mainly because of the lack of understanding from his surroundings, including those closest to him, like George Dyer in Bacon’s case – into a figurative, plastic and bizarrely internalised personal experience. The indoctrination of the Love is the Devil discourse is actually an ethically aesthetic monstrum that can only be invoked by someone who knows both: divine love and the hell of suffering.

The subject matter is reiterated but always varies in execution: the artist portrays herself, family, children, pregnant women, sexuality, the sexual act, birth, pain, death. In short, everything that is life. It may be that this initially raises a sense of discomfort in the viewer, he may even be enveloped by a feeling of embarrassment.

The basic motif that Bezjak introduces to us this time is the couple: the man and woman embroidered in a child’s drawing, embraced, kissing, clasping hands, or facing away from each other, symbolise the genuine relationship between two partners, who are expressing a platonic, almost shy tenderness towards each other. If the basic tone is primarily antagonistic, it is in direct contrast to what this principle seems to require from an artist: that despite the naturalistic/primitive/primary technique, a strong emotional charge can be sensed in the work of Saša Bezjak, a revolution of emotions that, in spite of technique, expand beyond the surface of the line drawing. Her works perceive life as depraved, full of suffering: we hear the shriek, we feel the lust, we perceive the sadness, passion, love, even motherhood.

Personal relationships and emotions, whether positive or negative, are the most important to the artist. The artist’s intimate confession is in her “children’s” drawing, by which she creates spontaneous narratives, defines her experience of the world and expresses her enthusiasm for life and detail in the environment.

As the artist sets the story in front of the viewer, she deliberately indulges in spontaneity – and when she retreats, her stories remain connected to the stories of many women, though she draws only from her own intimate experience. The exceptional value of Saša Bezjak’s works is that they portray and expose man and life in the primal aspect in the past and present – they speak in simple terms and therefore of the overlooked truth that man, despite global warming and migrations, has remained the same in his primal – primitive – aspect till time’s end: emotional, loving and trembling.

Human, of course. There is no love without some devil.