Fear of the Unknown with Costa Dvorezky

Canadian artist Costa Dvorezky draws from his wide and varied travels to capture the “symbolism within the human aspect of daily life” in his works. He expresses the subtleties and complexities of existence through his depictions of the human form, juxtaposing precisely detailed images of the human body against dreamlike backgrounds to create a unique kind of life-like surrealism. It is the subjects’ forms, as well as their interactions with these ambiguous backgrounds, which create the meaning behind Dvorezky’s paintings. They seem to symbolize the way the subjects’ thoughts and emotions can distort the reality of their daily lives, marrying the physicality of flesh with the bottomless abyss of the mind.

Costa Dvorezky

This piece, titled Canyon Dive II, features an unidentified man falling headfirst through a wide, surreal stretch of pale yellow fading into a soft sky blue. The low-saturated, mellow colors would typically evoke feelings of tranquility and peace, but the strange flatness of the background and the unsettling contortion of the man’s body evoke a sense of uneasiness. Although the title suggests a deliberate dive rather than an accidental fall, the muscles in his back are sharply flexed, energy coursing all the way through to his tensed hands and curled toes making us wonder if he is elated by the freedom of the plunge or terrified by the unknown. Trapped on Dvorezky’s canvas, the man seems doomed to fall for eternity, never reaching the absolution of the end but unable to reverse his decision to jump.

Although the painting seems deceptively simple at first, it presents the viewer with a variety of internal tensions – between the tangible and the abstract, freedom and fear, known and unknown – that produce a disconcerting eeriness and force the viewer to reconsider their existing perceptions of reality. The unanswered questions presented by the piece cause us to turn inwards and evaluate our own thoughts and emotions.

Is the man brave for facing the plummet head-on, or foolish for taking such a permanent fall? Why did he jump? What in my own life would cause me to jump? Possibly, the man is simply diving off of a canyon wall for a swim in the waters waiting below on a summer day, and this piece is portraying the moment of blind exhilaration following the leap. Yet the sense of peril we feel reveals the intensity and latent depths of our fear of the unknown.

How does this painting make you feel?