Klara Kristalova (b. 1967, Czechoslovakia; lives and works in Norrtälje, Sweden) creates figurative ceramic sculptures that take on hybrid forms. Many of Kristalova’s works incorporate both aspects of the human body and elements of nature, such as animals, insects, flowers, and trees. Infused with uncanny details and observations from her daily life and surroundings, Kristalova’s figures constitute a juxtaposition of scale where minute details reflect the monumental impact of constant change. Her oeuvre is grounded in an exploration of transitional states essential to both human and ecological life, and her sculptures conjure a familiar yet fantastical presence that exudes raw emotion. Building a fictive world that bridges humanity, ecology, and fantasy, Kristalova’s sculptures undergird the omnipresence of change across all forms of life.
Crafted in the artist’s secluded studio in Norrtälje, Sweden, Kristalova’s rugged style evokes a sense of discomfort, mirroring the sensitive and porous emotional landscape one finds themselves in when weathering changes. The figures exist in a liminal state, often possessing both human and anthropomorphic qualities and perhaps challenging such distinctions altogether. In this sense, Kristalova’s rustic style reminds us that the sculptural process is inherently transformative, as natural materials are shaped into static and enduring forms.
Kristalova also creates drawings, watercolors, and collages that allow her to fully investigate her sculptural forms. Many of Kristalova’s three-dimensional works recall the fine line between familiarity and discomfort, ultimately locating the monumental in the ordinary. Included in the critically-acclaimed Strange Clay exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, Kristalova’s highly textured sculpture The queen (2017) depicts a hybrid bird-human figure. With heeled boots and its hands in its pockets, the figure’s posture mimics that of a human, while its uneven skin conjures bird feathers. The work leaves ample room for both identification and estrangement, heightening the strangeness of everyday encounters. As she draws connections between humanity and ecology, Kristalova suggests that we too are in a constant state of transition.
Kristalova studied at the Royal University College of Fine Art, Stockholm. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at Lehmann Maupin, London (2023); Galerie Perrotin, New York, NY (2022); Norrtälje Konsthall, Norrtälje, Sweden (2022); Galerie Perrotin, Seoul, Korea (2021); Carl Eldh’s Studio Museum, Stockholm, Sweden (2021); Lidkopings Konsthall, Lidkoping, Sweden (2020); Galerie Magnus Karlsson, Stockholm, Sweden (2020); Kunstforeningen, GL Strand, Copenhagen, Denmark (2017); Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL (2014); Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden (2012); Göteborgs Konstmuseum, Gothenburg, Sweden (2012); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA (2011); and SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM (2009). Select group exhibitions featuring her work include Beyond the looking glass, United Talent Agency (UTA), Los Angeles, CA (2021); Du Cheval a l’oeuvre, Haras National du Pin, Le Pin-au-Haras, France (2021); ART ZUID Amsterdam Sculptuur Biennale, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2021); Human After All, The Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics, Leeuwarden, the Nertherlands (2020); In the Name of Flower, Pearl Art Museum, Shanghai, China (2020); Signature women, Artipelag, Stockholm, Sweden (2020); Tant le moindre de mes atomes t’appartient intimement: Oeuvres choisies de la Collection Bailey, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Montréal, Canada (2019); Shades of Existence, Teckningsmuseet, Laholm, Sweden (2019); Klara Kristalova, Marten Medbo, Per B Sundberg, Steneby Konsthall, Dals Langed, Sweden (2019); Figures de l’Animal, Abbaye Saint-Andre/Centre d’art Contemporain, Meymac, France (2019); Yellow Creature, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Luzern, Switzerland (2017); Les imaginaires d’un monde in-tranquille, Abbaye Saint-Andre/Centre d’art Contemporain, Meymac, France (2017); Taskashi Murakami’s Superflat Collection, Yokohama Museum of Art, Kanagawa, Japan (2017); Sisters of the Moon, KMAC Museum, Louisville, KY (2016); In Search of the Present, Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki, Finland (2016); NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL (2015).