Sylvia Laks

Costa Rica, b.1959

Lives and works in Heredia, Costa Rica

The realist portraiture of Sylvia Laks is drawn from diverse themes and influences, including the human body, identity, memory, landscape, and spirituality. Working with a variety of materials, from charcoal and pastel drawings to oil paintings on linen, Laks invites us to explore a myriad of mythical and mystical worlds from the realms of her imagination.

Bringing witches and elves to life, Laks centres her gaze on the female form, often interlacing themes of pregnancy and feminine spirituality. She focuses on the psychological expression of her characters, capturing their emotions and inviting you to glimpse into their souls, and unravel their curious narratives. Her paintings are enigmatic, where feminine beauty unites with powerful natural forces, creating a delicate balance that is both soothing and unsettling.

Beyond her painting and drawings, Laks is a stained glass master, running her own studio where she creates and restores stained glass pieces and teaches the process of making stained glass windows. Since the age of twenty-five, Laks has worked to perfect how light passing through glass can create striking atmospheres; she uses the grisaille technique to control pigments, temperature and glass textures. As with her paintings, Laks similarly depicts other worlds in her glass that breathes life into manmade structures.

Her work is integral to the restoration of some of Costa Rica’s most important churches as she is the first and only non-American to be welcomed into the Stained Glass Association of America. Laks has exhibited her paintings widely within Costa Rica, including at the North American Cultural Center Group in San Pedro and the Talentum Gallery in San José.

Sylvia Laks in her studio, 2023 (Photography by Julio Sequeira)

"A wonderful atmosphere is created when light passes through glass." Laks, 2023