Elija Grybe’s paintings use brutal images from MMA fights and wrestling matches to
help articulate self-assertion and dignity in abuse survival. The artworks open
conversations about violence and show, gender identity, masculinity, and control
over one’s own body in the Digital age. As a sexual abuse survivor, depicting fighting
bodies and violent images helped Elija confront the triggering imagery directly and
reduce the everyday effects of abuse trauma. Practicing martial arts for Elija has
been a way to take control of their body and helped practice body awareness.
The paintings create a contrasting space, where fleshy bodies are placed in an alien
environment with hard edged structures, blocks of bright colour and parasite
imagery. With this contrast the artist explores human relationship with organic bodies
and violence in the Digital age. Figures in the paintings are engaging with each other
in violent and sensual ways but framed within the rules of a competition. Performed
fighting reflects the violent human condition and the ability to play by the rules. Fight
scenes on popular media get lost between real violence and the show.