2014 – oil on canvas, 150×200 cm / 59×79 in
“Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a Tree, the trembling of a Leaf”. Albert Schweitzer
From my early childhood, it was obvious for me that trees are living individuals. The youngest of four sisters, I spent entire days in the Bohemian Forest outside my hometown Cesky Krumlov, talking to the trees, the bees and other animals. Trees are the link between earth and the sky. They are the largest plants and the most beautiful ones. With my awakening artistic imagination I saw things my older sisters could not see, and it was at this early age that I shaped my consciousness for nature, ecology and the environment.
Water was another determining element of this memorable time. Our house lay on the bank of the Vltava River, which inspired Bedrich Smetana for his wonderful symphonic poem “The Moldau”. From my father, who headed the local brewery, I learned early the importance of pure water for the famous Czech beers. But clean water is obviously much more than just a crucial element in beer.
Without water there would be no life on Earth. Our own body is composed by two thirds of water. Trees and all other plants need water to generate the oxygen for our “aerobic respiration”, where we convert oxygen and nutrients into ATP, the energy that powers our cells’ metabolic activities. The creation of energy within our body was one of the areas covered by “Food for the World. Energy for Life”, the theme of Expo2015 in Milano.
To provide Food for seven (and soon ten) billion people, one billion of them going hungry, is the major challenge of our century, which threatens to tear the world apart. The female figure, perched perilously on top of a globe in marble, symbolizes this delicate equilibrium. She is Gaia, the Goddess of ancient Greece, the mother of all other Gods. The mythological name was revived in 1979 by James Lovelock in his book “The Gaia Hypothesis”. The theory sees the Earth as a self-regulating, complex system, involving the biosphere, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the ecosphere, tightly coupled as a steadily evolving system.
This evolution tends to create a physical and chemical environment optimal for life, as long as it is not put out of balance by human intervention. To prevent this balance from tipping we need a new ethical and moral consensus. My Cloak of Conscience, installed in Expo2015, conveyed this urgency to the 25 million visitors. Not even in my wildest dreams in the Bohemian Forest did I ever imagine that through my works, I would one day participate in the creation of a new consciousness for life.