Toska – Sarah Byrne

Sarah JPEG 2 (2)

April 2nd – April 5th, 2015
Opening Reception: Thursday April 2nd, 6 – 8 pm
Artist talk: Thursday April 2nd, 3 – 4:30 pm

Toska is an untranslatable Russian word, however its closest delineation has been described as a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, in its least morbid interpretation. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody or something specific, nostalgia, or lovesickness. No single word renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest, and most painful translation, it is a sensation of great anguish, often without any specific cause.

This body of work attempts to translate personal connections made with place, culture, and community. The experience that led to this exploration was a voyage to Vietnam. Upon arriving in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, one can be awe struck by its vast and sweeping landscape, sprinkled by archipelago, and blanketed by clear turquoise waters. While the views are nothing less than breathtaking, what is perhaps equally astounding is the sincerity, and selflessness of the people who are native to the area. The desire to solidify nostalgia, bottle wanderlust, and mediate human presence within landscape, is the driving force behind the paintings.

Although inspired by one’s relationship with place, through terms of history, and human interaction, the memory of Vietnam carries with it deeply rooted emotions, which are relived, and purged, through the making of the work. While simultaneously exorcising and craving, it is not unusual to find one’s self homesick for places they have never been. This duality, or restlessness, mirrors the relationship between comfort, and the unknown.