‘Secrets of a Happy Household’ is the title of a 2020 exhibition shown at the Berlin gallery of Dittrich & Schlechtriem, which presented a series of works on paper in variations of ink, pencil, watercolour and acrylic, combining candid reality with psychological fantasy. As the introduction to the exhibition explained, ‘She uses honesty, fantasy and humour in her painting practice as tools of survival, the key to a tongue-in-cheek happy household’.

Stylistically varied, Katarina Janečková Walshe’s works can be quick diaristic depictions of everyday life. Others are patterned and layered, symbolic and allegorical, articulating a larger narrative on identity, femininity, and the complexities of power. Bears, snakes and dogs regularly stand in for men, while the women remain in focus and control. Deliberately, often provocatively, the artist and her subjects direct the viewer’s gaze, allowing a connection to and reflection on sexuality and identity.

As she says in a video recorded for the ‘Secrets of a Happy Household’ exhibition, which you can see here, much of her work is a way of channelling anger into loving criticism. And she explains the bears, so central to much of her work – ‘Bears started appearing in my work during my university studies; they have always served me as a mysterious replacement for a lover, a voyeur, some kind of protection. I enjoy how their simple black figures leave space for the viewer’s imagination, and mine too.’