Born in the town of Děčín, Ivan Mareš attended the Specialized School of Glassmaking in Kamenický Šenov from 1971 to 1975. He continued his studies in glass at the Academy of Art and Design in Prague from 1977 to 1983. There, he studied with the artist Stanislav Libenský who, with his wife Jarolsava Brychotvá, pioneered the use of cast glass as a material for large-scale sculpture. Mareš’s large-scale sculptures take months to produce, and he can complete only two to three sculptures, at most, in a year.
Rather than focus on hard-edged transparency or geometric forms, qualities that are characteristic of much Czech glass made in the 1980s and 1990s, Mareš chooses to investigate the ability of glass to be translucent, and to explore natural forms. Glass is not usually thought of as a natural or organic material, yet its ability to assume a variety of textures and colors and to hold light makes it the perfect material to explore the natural world. Forms and patterns in landscape, as well as the flora and fauna of the natural world, are all potential themes for glass.
On Edge depicts an openwork cocoon-like form, a full and rounded seed-like shape growing out of a curving rectangular block of solid glass. Mareš’s sculptures are constructed from abstracted shapes that might be based on a butterfly, egg, cocoon, haystack, or a bird’s wing. They are executed in deep purple, blue, green, yellow, amber, white, or colorless glass. The forms are oversized and textured with cell-like patterns, covered in ropelike twists, or abraded with deep lines. The depth of the glass varies, sometimes unexpectedly, from translucent to opaque, with the shifting light and color creating a sense of mystery and reverence.