Dear Jana, please tell us something about how you got into art. Do you remember your first contact with art and what were your most important stages?
I remember when I was a child, raised in socialist Czechoslovakia, my parents signed me up to a dancing class. After the first lesson, I felt unhappy because I wanted to go to drawing class with my friends:). Since I was young, drawing and painting have been a very natural way to convey my ideas, visions and wishes (for example, when I wished for something I couldn’t have, I just drew the thing precisely, which provided me with enough satisfaction). I have always fancied creating art, and the idea of studying the subject fascinated me. However, going to an art school was not very easy, because no one in my family was a professional artist, so they were worried, even though my mother and grandfather are wonderful painters. Fortunately for me, there was a brilliant art teacher in my hometown who shared his skills with me. When I was 17, I was quite rebellious, so one day, my friend and I sat on a train and went to the Academy of Arts in Prague to take drawing courses. One professor, who lectured the classes, was very kind and made us, crazy teenagers, participate in the course alongside his students. However, a very crucial moment happened when I visited the National Gallery in London. It was J. M. W. Turner’s Train painting that bewitched me so much I had to sit down and cry (bit cliché but truth: ) This intense experience made me realise that this is what I want to do, and there was no doubt about it. Ever. Hence, I proceeded to study at the Academy of Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia, where I did my bachelor’s degree. After I finished, I continued my studies in Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, Germany, where I graduated in February 2019. A lot of influence for my artistic practice came also from my family. My grandfather, who was the administrator of an agricultural company, taught me how to respect nature. My mother, a doctor, taught me a lot about the human body, healing and medicine (I remember looking at her old anatomy books, which had beautiful drawings of a human body). And, most significantly, travelling. One of the most influential journeys I ever had was when I participated as a volunteer in archaeological project UAXACTUN in Guatemala for the first time in 2015. That experience completely changed my view of the world. My knowledge and interests became more profound and extended beyond the general level. And after that, I have continued to explore and experience the world.
I think it`s an exciting point, as you describe, that in the past it was often enough for you to draw things you wanted but couldn`t have. I see a connection in how you deal with the material in your work today. Above all, your „Gebetsbilder“ ask for what material is. Isn`t materiality simply a form of memory that is dynamic and flexible itself? Materiality as a unit of measure that shows that everything that can be seen at the moment is just a deception of immediacy? Would you see it that way? For me, your „Gebetsbilder“ represent the desire that what is seen remains. The moment you see your „Gebetsbilder“, the observation creates a memory space that is a myth. Like when you look at sacred pictures, for example the „Turiner Grabtuch“. A prayer is a reflection and formulation of one or more wishes. It is therefore interesting that the installation of your pictures follows a concentric circle and creates a visible space. Even Turner`s picture, which you describe, has something to do with it: It shows a moving train that is lost in the blur of the landscape. A symbol of the absence that is always present, wich makes every landscape a trace of memory at speed.
I think my work "Gebetsbilder" is very much about, as we can say, what could be beyond the visible. The question I ask myself every time (and I bet a lot of artists do as well), is the same: how can I grasp something that is not visible and turn it into a visible form? From the title, we can read that the work is connected to the word "praying". I also perceive praying as a performative act. The whole process of developing my work is a performance, where I mostly try to let "it" (the "higher us", the creative principle or call it as you wish), speak through me. Therefore, I try to put myself into the process of creating with a clear mindset as much as it goes. It is not only about praying but also about transcending myself through my own work. Using different tools and materials and embedding the "canvas" into the chosen space and with that creating "individual mythology" for me is a way to express not only figurative aspects but transcend myself through the work. With doing so I am leaving Traces. I never really thought much about using this or that material. It develops itself mostly in the process of creating (learning by doing). I work mainly on canvas. The materiality of this fragile paper fascinated me very much, but I didn't know what to do with it. To me, it was beautiful enough just as an object itself. When I had my exhibition in the Crypt of the Jesuit Church in Bratislava in 2015, I used this material for the first time. I was working in the Crypt for two months while tombs of people from the 14th century were keeping me company. For this exhibition, I wanted to create some specific atmosphere of something you cannot grasp, but you know it is present. In some form. That's why I chose this fragile paper. Also because it was easy to manipulate with it. I wanted to transfer an idea of the essence of the body, which is dispersed in the environment. So I started with my body prints as a trace after the body, after the touch, a trace after the essence. In the end, it was only the trace that remained. In some of those works, I also contrastingly ruthlessly work with a paper. I like this contrast between fragile and brutal. It is also about finding a balance (which I am trying to find all the time in both the work and life:). Before the exhibition in Museum K21, I decided to work with the paper again, but I experimented more with many new and different materials which I combined. It gave my craft another meaning nouveau. The works were installed in a circle, repeated like a mantra because I wanted to evoke a sense of an altar. Because the installation was exhibited in a white-cube space, I wanted to create some coherent space which unites all the paperwork, which would evoke the viewer to catch the essence of my art. My work "Gebetsbilder" can also resemble some cloth or curtain. I remember that my grandmother had a lot of embroideries of hers hanging on the walls in the kitchen, and I loved those tapestries and embroideries. Thus, the aesthetic of something hanging in a space or the wall has truly fascinated me. It almost seems as if it is hiding something behind and letting only the traces of it coming through. Like the voice projects through us while we are praying. Like the presence of something or someone that is not here anymore. In this case, you shot in black with the "Turiner Grabtuch". I love this work, and it inspired very much, in both philosophical and artistic way, as well as a means of displaying an undefined fundamental substance.