Kaja Upelj’s practice gives presence of something alive, organic and sensual, and is challenging individual’s interaction and prompts a deep questioning of perception itself. Exploiting innate characteristics of materials and capturing the essence of body, the works elicit physical and sensorial response. Through the manipulation of primary materials such as glass, metal, and marble, Upelj emulates subtle nuances of bodily gestures, whose physicality she integrates into her work, though in a more abstract and less figurative sense. These sculptures posses a delicate and fragile beauty of intimacy, tenderness, and tension that define our relationship with ourselves and others. Despite being crafted from cold and sturdy materials, they evoke a sense of warmth and softness that makes one doubt their original composition.The iridescent dichroic colour found in her work symbolizes the viewer’s unstable perceptions. Our perception is not a fixed construct but rather a fluid accumulation shaped by childhood experiences, daily encounters, and interactions with others.
Through her work, Upelj delves into anthropology and psychology to determine complex tapestry of human connections. She draws intensively from her own body and imprints left of social interactions, implicit knowledge and the environment she belongs to. Flowers accompanying her works indicate rituals evoking the transformative nature of our personal journeys, mirrors are used as a means of the acceptance and reflections on self, and her sensual glass objects eloquently portray human being so beautifully; strong in appearance, fragile in reality.
Kaja Upelj (b.1992) is a Slovenian artist working between Slovenia and the United Kingdom. She graduated with MA from the Royal College of Art in 2018. Upelj studied in Estonian Academy of Art and received BA in Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana in 2016. In 2022, she had a solo exhibition Where There’s Nothing Else Left, Hold Me Tighter at Ljubljana’s Castle in Slovenia. Notable group exhibition include Green World at Emma Scully Gallery(2023), Perfect Darkness at Officine Saffi (2019) and presentations at art fairs such as Design Miami (2022), Future Fair (2022), Miart(2019, 2020), Nomad Circle (2019,2020).
Winner of the Art Residency in New York City by Slovenian Ministry of Culture in 2022, Upelj also received a scholarship by Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust in 2018 and gained training at Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. Other scholarships include Pilchuck Summer School (2017) and Scholarship for Postgraduate Study Abroad by Slovenian Ministry of Culture (2016). She was recognised as one of the global emerging young talents at New Horizons 2018 in China.