Balkan Art Scene
Lea Jerlagić — Manifesting The Erotic Divinity
Author: Hana Tiro
Lea Jerlagić's creative work is a constant fusion of apparently separated and irreconcilable aspects of reality, different cultures, media of expression – all with the goal of deeper penetration into mysterious inner world of a human being and his connection to the Universe. At the moment she is studying sacred erotic art of Tantric temples and scriptures. She finds inspiration in her spiritual practice of yoga and tantra, constantly and passionately searching for the ways of integrating revelations into artistic expression.
Lea Jerlagić was born in Sarajevo, where she finished most of her formal education. She started attending Academy of Fine Arts in 2004. But in 2007 she got a scholarship by Chinese Government, so she spent next two years in China where she studied Chinese culture, language, and Chinese woodcut which will leave a significant imprint on her future work.
Jerlagić receives master's degree at Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo (2013) with the work entitled "Synaesthesia". Through it, she studies phenomenon of transformation of the impulse received through one sense and expressed through another – transforming contemporary dance experience into a form of drawing and Chinese woodcut. She currently works as a Senior Teaching Assistant at Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo.
Recently, she opened an exhibition "Exaltation" on which she worked together with Alen Tatić, who wrote haiku poetry for the exhibition. It was a perfect combination of poetry with Lea's work, circling the overpowering Asia-inspired motifs.
Her materials for making Chinese woodcut are shipped by her friends from the Far East.
Jerlagić states, "I have always loved working on paper material that carries a special subtlety, fragility and beauty just like the human body, and therefore I consider it the perfect base for the works I perform, the Chinese woodcut. I could say that in these abstract lines I find embraces that already exist, like the seals of a long-forgotten time, only somewhat visible to the human eye, I try to emphasize them, to reveal them bit by bit, aiding so others can see them…"
"Lea’s “Exaltation” serves as an inspiring example of how art can capture details subtlety, expressing the extraordinary emotional depths and heights of sacred erotic experiences. Her art gives shape to the superior perspective of sensuality, and though viewer is shown “only” bodies, it invites to feel the voluptuous rapture of love that far transcends the physical", as it says on her blog.
An extraordinary effect that Lea achieves through her technique is the immediate sense of profound intimacy, to such an extent that this necessarily becomes starting point for viewers exploring her works. We’re drawn into a fully developed, conscious sensual reality where profound, elevated emotions and states are revealed through the beautiful, almost translucent bodies.
Small format entitled simply “3” saluting the divinity in us acknowledging that the divine is always present when two embrace in the name of Love
When did you start studying the topics related to erotica?
I always had an interest in erotica. Although it may sound odd, I remember drawing lovers in my early childhood. However, more serious dealing with the subject begins only a few years back. At first I explored the motive of kisses, and later depicted the full erotic act of making love.
Why the erotic treatments and depictions of surrounding?
Together with my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, and later at the Academy in Hangzhou (China), I began to practice yoga and study the spiritual teachings of the Far East, encountering Taoist and Tantric teachings that carry fascinating knowledge. These teachings can help modern man achieve a state of inner balance, so I began to search for artistic expression in which I could convey them. Eros is an important aspect of longevity (in Taoism) and spiritual development (in Tantra) and thus becomes a central theme for me also. After graduating, I started teaching ‘Drawing Nude’ class as an assistant at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo where the main motive is also a human body. In this way I could deepen my research and connect all the interests into harmonious whole. Slowly, my personal artistic “handwriting” emerged. I am still mastering and perfecting it.
"Dreams of Fire" - This is one of the art works inspired by Chinese text called ‘Nine Positions of a Dark Girl’, sometimes translated as ‘Canon of Dark Girl’, with it’s original title in Chinese Xuannü jing 玄女経.
Manuscript dates back to Sui period in Ancient China, around 6th and 7th century and is considered one of later texts. The precise date of the appearance of this text stays unclear.
"Totally Auspicious Drawing" - using ancient Chinese woodblock printing technique to create unique touch. These abstract shapes and lines printed on soft Chinese paper guide me while drawing lovers in erotic embraces. Shapes are revealed rather than created. They contain ancient messages hidden in the very fabric of material, of lines and colours. Each line is authentic, charged with personal exploration into the fascinating world of ancient erotic practices.
Do love and erotica go hand in hand? Do both of them appear inside the same space in your works?
Eros implies love. Modern vulgarization of eros does not. People think that every pornographic depiction of a naked body is erotic, but it is not. Great philosophers, such as Plato and Socrates, wrote about eros. Apuleius reveals in his work "Golden Donkey", through deep and significant symbolism, the importance of the relationship between eros and the soul in the story "Cupid and Psyche" (in some versions "Eros and Psyche").
I strive deeply to give eros the dignity it deserves and to bring love into each artwork I create. I feel very happy when people recognise (and they do) spiritual ecstasy of lovers in love that I am depicting.
Follow Lea at SaatchiArt, Facebook, and Instagram, and her blog.