Throughout her career Elly Strik (the Hague, Netherlands, 1961) has been particularly interested in those visionary artists that have probed the limits of human nature, such as James Ensor and Francisco de Goya. The artist has created a body of work based on the existential precariousness of the contemporary subject and on our insertion in a long and complex sequence that links us still to our ancestors; in other words, she explores the boundaries, always blurry, between reality and representation and the performative power still held by mythical thinking and the logic of ritual.
Her works, mostly drawings on paper with graphite and oil, are characterised by an elegant, clean execution and they explore the potential of physical metamorphosis processes in parallel with the artistic creation process (a process that is by nature transformative). Strik confronts us with mutant-like shapes and figures that embody and display different states of being, generating an intense effect of estrangement that overpowers the spectator’s gaze. With these images, the Dutch artist seems to suggest that the construction of identity is always an unfinished project and that the creative process is ultimately an act of individual reproduction through which the artist can subvert natural laws.
In the words of the art historian Jean-Christophe Ammann: “Elly Strik’s art contains the potential of metamorphosis. She returns to what Duchamp said: that every artist is his own bride and every artist her own groom.”
With her interest in uncovering the elements that comprise and give evidence of the hybrid nature of every individual, the identity-dissecting operation she carries out can appear threatening; but after the initial shock comes a moment in which the perturbing nature of her work fades and the pieces instead begin to act as totems, inviting us to look at and face up to the unknown.
Conceived specifically for the galleries of Museo Reina Sofía, Ghosts, brides and other companions is Elly Strik’s first exhibition in Spain. The show brings together new and previous work and includes around 100 pieces. It is organised into the following themes: witches and mystics, birth and brides, weddings, Freud and Darwin, rituals and rebirth, sleep. In addition, in the exhibition there is a room dedicated to Goya, an artist for whom Strik has always felt great admiration and whose work she has visited repeatedly on her various visits to Spain.
This exhibition is part of the Festival Miradas de Mujeres 2014
Museo Reina Sofía Publications