It’s often said that great art can come from great hardship, something that British artist Sarah-Jane Szikora might know a lot about. Having had major eye surgery at age 4 and struggling with an eating disorder from her teens to her early thirties, Szikora knows the meaning of pain and suffering, which she mines with often humorous effect in the canvasses of her intriguing oil paintings. Like the similarly whimsical and humorous work of German surrealist Michael Sowa, each painting offers intricate detail and a quirkiness that makes her work instantly recognizable. Szikora’s art, however, bears a message borne from painful life experience.
She has since conquered this debilitating condition, but its legacy is plainly visible through her art: the distorted bodies, tiny heads, a deep fascination with food and our relationship with it. Outrageously exaggerated figures and animals, snack foods and gingerbread men form the main subjects in her artwork. Her human characters — people who don’t fall under society’s most desired category — seem happy and comfortable with themselves. In this way, her art becomes a sort of study in the psychology of human behavior and a statement about the importance society puts on body image. Commenting on her ‘fat ladies,’ she says, “There is an obsession in our society about appearance: everyone is on a diet or opting for cosmetic improvements. Why is it we dislike ourselves so much?”
Finding the silver lining (and the humor) in life’s difficulties, it’s the intriguing art of Sarah-Jane Szikora.