Ballon Rouge and Pi Artworks present ‘Archipelago,’ a solo exhibition of Ana Čvorović’s (b. Sarajevo 1981) work from September 9 - October 23 at Ballon Rouge, Brussels. 

 

Ana’s practice is focused largely on ideas around displacement, dispossession, and migration. The exhibition brings together the sculptures she made for her 2019 project, ‘Borders Unfold,’ alongside wall works made during lockdown in London. The works echo one another through their depiction of islands – physical and metaphorical. 

 

Floating and yet static, her translucent sculpture series ‘Insoluble Blossoms’ resembles colourful sea creatures that roam on our sea bed. Ana is interested in this ‘underworld’ - this sea bed of unknown, lost, or invisible things as an analogy for the lost women and children subjected to forced migrations. Inside these delicate glassware sculptures are bright, fluorescent children’s swimming costumes, some are also joined by crocheted doilies and fishing objects. There is a domestic aspect to the object itself, resembling a decorative item you might find unused in a home. 

 

But where those objects merely become part of a whole scene, Ana’s are urging to be seen. Their colors and their slight oddities in formation beg for a closer look. This is in turn a looking, too, at these forgotten and displaced women and children. In her other sculpture works, Ana creates small islands using high visibility jackets embedded in plaster. The play on anchoring in place vs. disappearing, continues here and throughout Ana’s works.

 

Then there are the wall pieces, the namesake works of the exhibition: the ‘Archipelago’ series. They are made on tarpaulin, a waterproof material and one used to cover and protect. Upon this surface Ana paints landscapes, a selection of images sourced by navigating Google Earth and taking screenshots from films during her time in lockdown. There is hope to these images, the same sense of hope one would gather from a postcard of a faraway unknown land. When paired with the ‘Insoluble Blossoms’, with their bathing suits and bright glow, an entirely different reading could begin to unravel;  that of escape and release, a sense of holiday.

 

This very enigmatic tethering between these readings of what is on the surface of the works, and what really lies beneath is where they find their power. There are a multitude of feelings involved in displacement; there is loss, there is invisibility, and pain, but perhaps there is also always hope, or the hope for rebirth, the wish to be seen and heard and not forgotten. Puncturing these tarpaulin canvases are plaster casts of industrial items sourced from a waste site in Bosnia, as well as sometimes butterfly bolts and lifting-eye bolts. The meanings and readings in the use of these objects should not be lost; in Ana’s works there is never a moment that one thing is only meant to be read or understood for what is seen, for what is on the surface. 

Ana Čvorović came to the UK with her family in 1989, fleeing the impending civil war in former Yugoslavia. A student at Chelsea College of Art, Brighton University and the Royal College of Art, Čvorović's installation-based work considers the role of borders and boundaries and the psychological effects of war and migration.  In 2017 Čvorović was shortlisted for the Mark Tanner Sculpture Award and in 2018 she became the recipient of the a-n Artist Bursary Award. Her work has been exhibited internationally and across the UK including Pi Artworks, Collyer Bristow, Backlit Gallery, Maddox Arts, Ben Uri and The Koppel Project, as well as specially curated sections of Art15 and Ch.ACO art fair, selected by Kathleen Soriano and Cecilia Fajardo-Hill. In 2018 she participated in the ‘Who Are We’ project in association with Counterpoints Arts at Tate Exchange. Čvorović was supported by Arts Council England for her project ‘Borders Unfold’ in 2018 which led to her first major UK solo exhibition at Pi Artworks. Her work is part of the Saatchi collection as well as numerous private collections.
 

Founded in 1998, Pi Artworks is an international contemporary art gallery with spaces in London and Istanbul. Pi Artworks aims to create a program to initiate social change. Pi Artworks wants to cross borders, make connections, explore “shared histories”, bridge artists from different geographies working on similar issues and open up to global conversations about art history, political and critical thinking.