“Just a water ripple, only one form do I plead. Homogeneous, triple, it is seamless like my creed. And it is day and it is night, yet it’s day, yet it‘s night…”

Alžběta Josefy

Uncertain Incentive explores the genesis and transformation of the work of this graduate of Prague’s Academy of Fine Arts (Studio of Traditional Painting Techniques, prof. Zdeněk Beran, and Studio of Painting III, prof. Michael Rittstein) who also did a study exchange at the École supérieure d’art d’Aix-en-Provence. In her art, Josefy moves away from a realistic depiction of strange hallucinogenic scenes and towards a distinctive technique in which she washes out her paintings and suppresses her own artistic gesture to produce abstract compositions based on real models and innate archetypes.

Alžběta Josefy works by concentrating her efforts on thematic cycles. Her vision initially presents us with unclear images. As in the films of David Lynch, we are suddenly surprised by an unusual image of a girl or female figure or a close-up of the body and its physical language. Josefy takes a similar approach to her depictions of animals (e.g., Cat). Nor are her inanimate objects what they appear to be. She frequently depicts vessels and containers such as reliquiaries, empty floating corsets, or items of everyday use. Josefy’s restrained visual style – she creates monochrome paintings with occasional colour accents and subdued lighting – underscores the intimacy and unclear location of the interiors.

Over time, her work has shed realistic outlines and come to focus more on smaller details, snippets of the greater whole. She produces abstract depictions of borders, hems, folds – or, conversely, of the endlessness of the cosmos. Her attention is focused more on situations, states, and processes by which she observes dramatic moments of transformation or presents long perspective views. She also depicts parts of the human body: eyes as naked sensors, organic skeletons, or “X-ray” images of the spinal cord. As she changes subjects, Josefy also discoveres new techniques.

“I discovered a technique that goes well with my intention. I apply the paint all over and then remove it – I wash it off. Basically, I ‘develop’ the depicted shapes. In fact, I see a similarity with photography, with the process of developing a photograph. I like to think about the definition of photography, that it is a process that makes use of light to create a permanent visual image. It strikes me as something that is ‘hands-free.’ Just an imprint. But the struggle with material – with paint – is important for me, even if I am essentially trying to suppress my physical input and it is just a kind of imprint. This ambivalence is important for me.”

As she herself says, her current work makes greater use of accentuated colour, which she uses to express sensory perceptions: not only sight, but also sound, taste, and sometimes even smell. This intense colourism brings light and additional spatial dimensions into her paintings, which do not lose any of their earlier magic and attractiveness but instead ever more profoundly affect us by their intuitive sensitivity. Her works stimulate our amygdala and bring out repressed emotions and memories.