With her cycle of paintings named ‘The Rooms of Water’ Ivana Živić makes all experiences of enclosed spaces in which we live – public or private, spaces of intimacy or meeting points – visually tangible and real. Interpreted as scenery, the walls we move within become interior spaces of desire and contemplation.
The works that belong to The Rooms of Water are based on the photos of swimmers in the pool. The swimmers’ bodies were removed from the pool and placed in an interior of completely different meaning. Dressed in accordance with the environment and situation, the bodies still have fluid distortion created by a movement through the water or a view through the space filled with fluid. The act of swimming, as the sole form of movement through the space of a painting, imposes a strong experience of forgotten, sunken space or even space of a dream. The water is not painted – its fluid and the atmosphere of underwater reality create and expand the swimmers themselves. The ease and freedom of the movement of their bodies is contrary to the experience of incarceration and loneliness of the painted space. The rooms of water suggest soaking, sinking and drowning, but searching as well. Dislocation of the individual into the submerged, lonely world of urban living refers to reconsideration of life choices, relationships and environments.
The presence of water with its multiple symbolic meanings emphasizes magical and surreal atmosphere of the paintings. Water is the first form of matter, the liquid of life. In religions of the world it is an indispensable part of the rituals and prayers. By soaking and immersing water washes away, regenerates and sanctifies. It is attributed with the power of adaptation and persistence; it is a symbol of spirituality, subconscious and inner life.
Using realism and narrative detail Ivana Živić has achieved poetic and enchanted dimension of the image. The premises are carefully selected and the colors and ambience posses visual and symbolic function, binding to everyday life, personal and cultural history. The unreal interiors are rich in symbols, while the lone figure stands in a deliberate comparison with the space through which it moves without retention. The oil on canvas paintings bear names like The Gold Room, The Room of Light, The Room below the Ceiling That Peels, The Red Room, The Ambience of the Hotel on the Way to Room 237, Disco, and there is a pastoral landscape of The Children's Room... While swimmers of different ages and sexes float through the space of visual stories and images, our thought explores.
Unexpectedly, the work on The Rooms of Water coincided with large-scale floods which occurred in Serbia and its surroundings during 2014. High waters as well as their outpour symbolize great adversity in religious as well as other interpretations of symbols. A flood symbolizes disappearance and deletion, but also a new beginning: one age disappears while another emerges, suggesting the death of a cultural-historical period.
The Rooms of Water confront us with sinking of the individual and a state of disorientation, loneliness and exclusion, without support, air or confidence in the future. Nothing is what it seems. Apocalyptic dimension of the notion is mitigated by ease and waviness, by continuous movement of swimmers who are swimming from room to room, looking for a way out of sleep.
The work of Ivana Živić begins with creative play and ends with thought-out visual story. Conceptually and technically masterfully resolved, it confronts us with deep-seated notions of painting and art, of art and its function. It problematizes the role of the individual in the society and community. Not at all indifferent to the fact that she lives in fluid, uncertain and sunken world of today where art is Ivana’s choice and necessity, The Rooms of Water represent her artistic maturity, visually and poetically inspired. Dreamlike, narrative and ambiguous, the paintings talk to us in their clear voice as the world of the subconscious outbursts from their edges.
Zorica Atić, Art Historian