IN/EX TERIOR - The Works of Eva Jiricna

 

 From an essay by Petr Kratochvíl


It is logical, perhaps, that a top-class and original artist cannot be easily classified, Jiricna herself is sceptical about the need to define herself in terms of a style: when she speaks with admiration of boats and their components, she stresses that they cannot offend anyone´s taste because they have no style; their effect is a result of being completely functional. Her own work, however, proves that she has never reduced beauty to functionality in the practical sense of the word, although one is an essential condition of the other: Jiricna's personal style is unique and therefore hard to express in terms of objective factors. How then can she be classified?
Jiricna often resists the label 'high-tech' applied to her work. It is true that the materials she uses are not in any way revolutionary discoveries but traditional (glass, stone, wood, polished plaster), or those which have been in use for a long time (steel).The manner of producing her one-off interior elements in small specialised workshops is reminiscent of the craft age rather than the assembly-line factory of today. And yet it can be said that she verges on the high-tech in two aspects: first, in the open display of structural techniques in her interior elements, and, second, in the degree of precision and her method of taking calculations based on the elaboration of all details at the microscale used in more intricate procedures. In many ways Jiricna has assumed the aesthetic of high-tech forms.The fact that she thinks them through and uses them in the reduced scale of her interiors is the key to their more subtle form.
At the same time, however, Jiricna diverges from this trend. Her concept of the unified flowing space associated with the earlier phases of modern architecture has already been mentioned. In the Joan & David store in NewYork, for instance, she uses many different curved shapes to suggest movement, from curved seats to undulating walls, right through to goose-necked seats twisting around columns. Jiricna´s work is clearly inspired by the architecture of the past, more deeply than it might at first glance seem from her future-oriented projects. However she does not want to reinterpret (let alone imitate) historical shapes; her inspiration is derived from their internal logic which - at least in good architecture - remains unchanged through the ages. Hence her interventions in existing buildings – either from the beginning of the nine- teenth century (the Sir John Soane´s Museum) or the 1950s (Ove Arup house) or in the historical city environment of Prague - harmonise internally with the preserved values and do not disrupt their order despite the novelty of the means.
Ultimately something quite timeless radiates from her interiors. (With her shop interiors, Jiricna consciously takes into account the changeability of the fashions they display. In residential interiors she aims to create a solid 'skeleton' to resist time, fashion and the changing tastes of their inhabitants.) This impression of timelessness is evoked by the perception of balance in her work, by her precise resolution of the task at hand.
Jiricna is convinced of the importance of innovation in architecture, hence her admiration for the modern avant-garde, with its courage to discover and to ignore all formal revivals and imitations. In her criticism of Post Modernism, she once declared it an incompetent answer to the questions that could not be resolved by Modernism, and in this sense she considers it suffers from a certain lack of patience to resolve and determination to find the truth. She herself remains in the tradition of modern architecture, discovering there a space ready for further inventions, for new forms charged with an intensity of poetic experience.



 


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