Traditionally, plaster is used by sculptors to make preparatory models rather than a finished work of art. For Bartuszová, however, plaster was a signature material. Its impermanent nature is reflected in the fragile and vulnerable quality of her sculptures, and their suggestion of organic processes and transitory states such as falling, melting, budding and eventual decay.
She used a distinctive method of casting liquid plaster by hand. ‘I pour plaster into rubber balloons (and inner tubes)’, she explained. ‘I shape the rubber by pressure or pulling and I let the plaster harden in the rubber – sometimes I do it in water and thus I partially eliminate earth’s gravity …’
Bartuszová worked in relative isolation for over three decades in the provincial city of Košice, close to the present-day Slovak border with Hungary and Ukraine. Her artistic life was constrained by the limitations of the political system in socialist Czechoslovakia, as well as financial concerns and the demands of family life. Even so, she made some five hundred sculptures, from small tactile organic forms and reliefs, to commissions for public spaces and ephemeral works in the landscape. Her experimental approach expands upon the sculptural practices of modernist artists such as Constantin Brâncuși, Henry Moore, and Jean Arp.
The works shown in this room have been recently acquired with the support of Edward and Agnès Lee.
Curated by Juliet Bingham.