Balls are flying through the Ostrava air right now. It’s because the J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Pro tournament, a contest in which the world's greatest beach volleyball aces measure their skills, is taking place here. The fact that this sport can also be inspiring for artists has been proven by painter Alena Anderlová, who created a series of paintings called Inner Game to celebrate the competition’s fifth year. The three artworks are titled Kometa (Comet), Game and Za úplňku (Under the Full Moon). The canvases show a volleyball match at night, combining reality with fiction.
Alena Anderlová focuses on figurative art set in various environments. Her paintings combine a sense of colour composition and work with light, through which she imbues her figures with a kind of magical aura. This is also true in the case of the paintings created on the occasion of the volleyball tournament taking place in the industrial area of Dolní Vítkovice. However, the canvases don’t show a regular volleyball, instead, flying through the air is the moon or a fiery comet. It is tempting to disregard the round flying object altogether and imagine figures with their feet buried in the sand gazing into the dark sky, contemplating and triumphing over themselves rather than their opponents.
"When I was thinking about how to capture the topic of volleyball, I thought that the flying ball resembles a comet in its movement. I decided that I could portray various natural phenomena that take place in the sky in the paintings. In the painting titled Under the Full Moon, the volleyball turns into the moon under the player’s fingers. The figure in the desert may resemble a meditating saint or trapped in some inner struggle that at some point becomes their entire universe. I decided to set the painting in a desert, among the pyramids. To add to the atmosphere, I used real sand, which I glued into the foreground of the painting.", the artist describes her vision.
As part of the Inner Game series, three canvases were created under the titles Comet, Game and Under the Full Moon.
She has deliberately immersed the paintings into a dark environment, where the glow of the celestial objects becomes more visible, adding: "I wanted to evoke a dreamlike atmosphere and depict situations that could 'really' happen. To create images where reality and fiction, dream and reality, intermingle."
In Anderlová's paintings, we see the dynamics of the human figure, a convincing coordination of complex movement, but also of experience, concentration, tension, or relaxation in the faces of the athletes. Above all, thanks to the specific colour scheme, we can feel the paintings’ charge and energy.
And how does the author feel about the game itself?: "Beach volleyball evokes the warm atmosphere of summer and holidays, the joy of moving in the fresh air somewhere by the sea. The theme was so easy to work with. It allows me to represent both the human figure in motion and the landscape, which are the disciplines I like most in my work." She says she prefers to watch volleyball rather than actively playing it and is looking forward to coming to Ostrava for the Beach Pro: "Experiencing this ‘seaside’ atmosphere in the middle of an industrial environment must be an experience."
Alena Anderlová, *1977
She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, where she studied in the painting atelier of Michael Rittstein. Her work is included in private collections in the Czech Republic and worldwide. She lives in Klatovy and cooperates with galleries not only in the Czech Republic but also in Germany. This series is not an isolated incident, Alena Anderlová has been consistently working on sports topics and has created series depicting car races or athletic or football stadiums. Her paintings also include rowing, which we discussed in THIS INTERVIEW.