Nevena Bentz’s work focuses on the complex relationships between people and their surroundings. Her pieces highlight the interconnectedness of all forms of life on the planet. The human and the natural are contrasted, but fuse and reinforce the idea of their oneness. The feminine subjects highlight the nurturing and healing attributes of women and Nature, their resilience and ability for renewal.
Nevena creates paintings with a sculptural quality, where Nature’s landscape is built through the layering and collaging of a variety of natural materials, creating complex organic patterns and textures. The collaging of Nature’s various components alternates connection and disconnection, creating surprising boundaries and unlikely relationships of fragmented organic matter. Fine sand and mica are reminiscent of the stars and offer the means to place our earthly experience within the universal, challenging our limited human perception. As David McCord said, “A handful of sand is an anthology of the universe.”
Highlighting the conflict between Nature’s harmonious landscape and human activity, Nevena’s work exposes the challenge of people to connect to the whole of which they are a part. The human element causes disruption and fragmentation of the natural world and stands in contrast with it. Where Nature’s components blend harmoniously despite their varied colors and textures, people constitute black and white depressions of the overall landscape. Their presence tears into Nature’s fabric, visually recreating the destructive effect of human activity, such as deforestation, agriculture, development, and extraction. Placing humans centrally in space also affirms their egocentric view and the perception that Nature is separate, marginal, and to be used for their benefit.
The feminine brings a double-edged aesthetic sensibility. Women are a symbol for beauty, creation and renewal and naturally blend with Nature as co-creative forces of life. Another aspect of the female presence is a shared vulnerability with Nature which elevates the female figure into that of a peaceful warrior who seeks to fight for and protect its kin, becoming an antithesis to the traditional model of masculinity upon which modern industrial society was built.
Female identity is a constant theme in Nevena's body of work. In her prior work, the female face served as a visual portal into human psychology and our relationship to self, examining our emotions and earthly experiences. Her current series “One” places our quest for self-knowledge into the larger framework of our world and universe, expanding upon the notion articulated by Einstein that looking deeper into Nature will enable us to better understand everything, including ourselves.