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Jocelyn Ulevicus is an Amsterdam-based writer, poet, and visual artist. Whether painting flowers or more abstract pieces, her paintings are a direct response to her emotional life as she explores what it means to be a woman today. Flowers and imaginary worlds remain a common motif across her visual work, referencing both the classical symbolism of memento mori of painters such as van Gogh, Ruysch, and van Huysum, as well as more contemporary artists such as Wong, Lasnig, and Mitchell. Each painting can be read as a document of how Ulevicus negotiates the lived experience of being a bereaved daughter and as a single, childless, ageing woman. The theme of human identity and search for self-discovery underpin her exploratory process of form, colour, and emotion— the interiority of the body and outer world cannot be kept apart. While optimism is present in her work, evoking the necessity of hope, she invites the viewer into a space of critical speculation.

Following a traumatic event on the streets of Amsterdam, Ulevicus spent nearly two years in a perennial state of perseverance. One foot in front of the other, day after day of the same thing, only different. Repetition is sometimes the only way through something difficult—something unknowable, a change process germinating from within. Here, she learns to appreciate that there is beauty in the repetitive, mundane acts of living. Something that feels the same day in and day out has differences in the details—this is the primary theme explored during her time at El Sur.

Through a combination of the use of writing, visual art and participation, In Searching For The Living Thing, Ulevicus has created an exhibition of community exchange, endurance, destruction, and ultimately creation.

In What Beautiful Things Can Grow, Ulevicus lets go of control of her work and observe how it is transformed. She invites viewers to transform her work through a radical act—viewers are prompted to cut out parts of a canvas painted with flowers, in exchange for a drawing of a flower—signalling that in togetherness, we heal, we grow a garden. Witnessing her work be destroyed is viewed as a violence against herself that she survives.

In the text Searching For The Living Thing, Ulevicus documents 17 of her 38 day travel in Mexico City. The entries in this document have not been edited, favouring the limits and structure of the 2,200 character limit of Instagram. In this way, the entries are preserved as they were created: a point in time document of her becoming; of her emotional and creative experience. Much of the writing has informed her residency experience, and this text, specifically, is paired with the work Mantra For Living. In her own words, “I came to Mexico City in search of a living thing. And I found out, I am finding out, that the living thing is me.”

In Mantra For Living (Searching For The Living Thing), beginning with a single brush stroke, Ulevicus paints freely, attempting to make the interior visible through her use of colour and mark making. While painting, she recites the words: life is beautiful. The finished piece is a floral abstraction marked with those same words in repetition across four panels: a mantra for living. Three additional paintings in loose abstract form oppose this piece as a reflection.

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