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Alžbĕta [pronounced alj-bi-eta] is now a regular on the Gibraltarian art scene, having participated in the last internationals and Fine Arts Gallery exhibitions with her conceptual contributions, ‘impressionist and expressionist, aesthetically pleasing but carrying a message within’, as she markets them. Despite not having yet being acknowledged with official prizes or commendations, she can count on one prestigious sale, which makes her feel accomplished as an artist and keen to pursue this path.

Most of her artwork features seas and oceans, and this was no different, focusing on waves polluted by plastic bottles and shopping bags: immediate and disturbing, the picture couldn’t go unnoticed at the 2018 International.

“I like to paint decorative art because I want it to give you a sense of serenity; but I also want to use my creativity to raise awareness on issues close to my heart, like ecology,” she says. “My style is semiabstract, so that onlookers can interpret my pictures at their will, and that is ok with me, as long as my pieces keep the conversation going, especially if they spark constructive discussion and prompt action to tackle the problem depicted.”

She draws inspiration from what she sees around her, whether impressive or concerning; she wants her art to speak to you in your own language, and the overall impression one gets from her production is clarity, positivity, mindfulness and peacefulness. Gaze at any of Alžbĕta’s paintings and you will be immediately transported to a lustrous world where the sun shines and does away with any dark shadow.

That is ok with me, as long as my pieces keep the conversation going.

Born in a Czech town at the crossroads of Austria, Slovakia and Czech Republic, a keen traveller and self-labelled ‘rebel soul’, Alžbĕta is familiar with multiculturalism. Thus, she felt at home when she moved to Gibraltar some six years ago, chasing after her longing for the Mediterranean Sea.

“When I was younger, I painted an imaginary seascape out of my mind’s eye, which featured a rock formation emerging from the ocean. I wasn’t familiar with the Rock of Gibraltar’s profile at the time, and surely it wasn’t meant to be it, but after I came to Gibraltar, my mother, seeing its photos and comparing them to that painting, pointed out how it was somehow a premonition of my moving here,” she muses.

Strong of her Arts Management master’s degree, she landed a job as event planner at a local hotel, so she decided to stay. She mingled with the local artistic community, glad of the many opportunities to make her work known, and to grow as an artist thanks to mutual feedback and exposure to other artists’ production.

She regards Gibraltar’s art scene as vibrant and diverse and its ambience cosmopolitan, open to currents, influences and suggestions. Alžbĕta dreams about having her own solo exhibition one day, since she has enough material tucked away in her little studio to fill the gallery’s sizeable walls!

“My mother pointed out how it was somehow a premonition of my moving here.”

Alžbĕta masters a fairly novel painting technique, which presents its challenges, surpassed by far by its rewards, and yields surprising and elegant results. She paints with resin, for a translucent finish that makes the picture look like it was made of – or painted on – glass, and lit from behind with a gentle glow.

“Well, first of all, this technique is expensive, and that alas reflects in the finished product’s price tag, and there is little room for error; second, it needs ‘curing’ for a few days in a dry place, so I usually leave the electric heater on in my studio when I complete one; and third, the resin has a pungent odour which can be toxic, so I have to paint with a thick mask on… but the results are rewarding and original, and I find them to convey appropriately my message,” she says. 

“I came across this technique at a friend’s home, where some famous Czech artist’s paintings are proudly on display, and I was curious about their glossy quality, so I inquired about the technique, and was advised against its many cons. I sussed that the pros would outweigh them, and there and then I decided to give it a try. I liked its possibilities, found myself comfortable with resin, and went on exploring it further.”

The results are rewarding and original.

It is a tricky balance of resin, pigment and other elements for added texture. For example, she created an impression of tropical seashores using real Saharan sand on a disc canvas, with the resin mimicking clear waters.

She entered The Sinking Earth, a turquoise and white map of the world crafted with resin, in the Alwani Summer Show, and surely attracted attention to its message: behind its sense of timeless stillness, the image is actually screaming about the oceans’ rising levels and the risk of seeing many islands and coastlines submerged, if we don’t correct our consumerist habits. Her other entry was a delicate seascape at sunset, a sailing boat and the outline of the Rock bathed in gold, oozing glamour and tranquillity.

Alžbĕta Znamenská is an eclectic artist who dabbles in singing too, as she used to perform Czech folk songs, and she hopes to hold a concert locally, pandemic permitting.

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