On the border of imagination and reality, as well as on the border of our and other worlds, there is a secret place for what apparently doesn’t exist but easily could. The creatures that inhabit it form silent alliances, perhaps so they are not so lost in the vast universe, perhaps they know better than us that it is better to be together than to be alone. Some have a mysterious effect, some reflect a quiet tenderness, a sense of belonging. Others instill in us a fear of the unknown, of what exceeds us, even though it could still be a part of us.
Denisa Müllerová is the creator and at the same time the guide of that magical place. She abandons the medium of painting and takes the visitors of the works on a journey into a soft satin slush inhabited by organisms not dissimilar to sea animals, which are close and distant to our perception at the same time. She only reveals something, just enough to leave room for the viewer’s own imagination, for their own understanding of her world, which at that moment ceases to be only hers and becomes ours.
Being next to each other, just like this
If you love me, close your eyes, and count to a hundred. Count to a hundred years and listen and above all don’t go anywhere, I’ll be here. You will feel my breath, you will be able to catch it if you lose the rhythm. We will swim next to each other in the absolute, we will drink water from the spring and finally we will pour ourselves into the sea together, we will dissolve into white foam and everything that we were will then not matter.
I imagine the world of digital images of Denisa Müllerová’s Friendship series as a silent world. Perhaps it’s because its population seems to float in a vacuum. As if sailing through a still ocean, an endless soft space, a space without edges and without necessity, surrendered to the peaceful pace of being – without need, lust, without violence. In such a place words are superfluous, without them the fact seems more indisputable than with them. Those who inhabit the space know it, speech is not a precise enough means for their purposes. They lightly touch each other. They contemplate. They convey the most necessary and important message – I’m here with you.
In the installation itself, the author returns to the carefree times of childhood creation, braids friendship bracelets and brings to the present the memory of the sincere joy associated with the first attempts to design her own forms. The connection of the digital interface with a child’s game thus becomes a statement about the author’s journey through the world of artistic creation, from the material beginnings of abstract forms to the dematerialized figures of unknown inhabitants of the state of weightlessness. Connecting these two moments captured in time is the central motif of both; the importance of closeness, under whose protection we can build what is beautiful, what brings joy.
Your work explores the border between imagination and reality. Can you elaborate on this concept and how it plays out in your art?
One of the key elements of the visual component of my work is the difficulty to distinguish at first glance whether what we see is real or not. Apart from fictional creatures, it can also remind of microorganisms or maybe some unknown marine life. The moment when it’s needed to stop and contemplate about it, speculate what it really is or could be, that is an attractive moment in art for me. I feel like it makes the viewer more invested in the art piece.
Can you walk us through your creative process, from idea generation to execution?
It varies from piece to piece. What my works have in common is the world in which they take place. That world is given, and I just uncover it with each new work. That world has appeared in me since the beginning of my digital creation, and I show more and more of it in different ways and in different media. I feel like I’m just documenting something that’s been around for a long time. My creative process usually does not work on a scale from idea to realization, but as a form of uncovering something that already exists. The Friendship series was a little different – there I connected it with reality, I wanted to make an ode to friendship. I wished to simply make nice art that would make me happy. For the form, I chose framing with a frame made of ironing beads, which is a very nostalgic material that reminds me of my childhood, and friendship bracelets, which is self explanatory. In the work, I really wanted to be creative and silly and was very aware of the possible naivety it can convey; regardless, I chose the most pleasant and fun materials to work with. And there it started with an idea and not an unveiling, but that’s a rare way for me.
Your work often features mysterious creatures that inhabit a secret place. What inspired you to create these creatures, and what message are you trying to convey through them?
I’ve always been fascinated by marine organisms, bugs, all life that didn’t look like it was from our planet. I could sit by the lavender in our garden for an hour and watch the bees fly around there. Or I would stop for a few minutes by the beetle in the forest and observe how it works, how it exists. All these explorations took root in me, and this world began to emerge. I think the most important thing for me is the creativity itself that I have with the creation of this world rather than any message. But gradually I try to give some life experiences or stories to my creatures. Recently I had a dream that I was pregnant, so I made for the first time a creature that was also expecting a child. To my surprise, I was deeply affected by it, so I think I would like to start illustrating ideas from my real life or dreams, in an abstract way, because I believe that the connection can have large potential.
How do you strike a balance between revealing enough to spark the viewer’s imagination while leaving room for their interpretation?
This is a difficult question for me. Only gradually do I realize that literalism lacks magic. There are different ways to go about it, and mine is the pursuit of familiarity. In my opinion, familiarity always somehow attracts a person. I’m much more visually invested in people I feel I’ve seen before than people I don’t know at all. Simultaneously the space I create is often quite undefined – the organisms never have faces, it’s not at all clear what their dimensions are, if they are huge or if they are microorganisms – so the familiarity has its limits. I believe this and other questions my work evokes arouse interest and then it’s pleasant to explore.
What kind of emotional response do you hope your art elicits in the viewer?
I’m not anticipating anything in particular. It’s nice for me when my work stimulates the viewers’ imagination, and they want to see further. Someone has the same feeling as I do when I meet an interesting bug in the forest, and someone is a little intimidated or creeped out. Both reactions are very valid for me, I am glad my work lives its life.
How has your work evolved over time, and where do you see it going in the future?
Originally, I painted and illustrated my emotions or thoughts, often very personal and difficult topics processed into colorful, cheerful abstractions. My transition to the digital world has completely changed the content and aesthetic of my work, but I would like to return to that journaling-like process in art someday. As I already said about the pregnant dream, something in a similar sense. And as for the form, now I enjoy incorporating 3D within a photograph – combining aesthetics from my world with human beings, so that’s something I want to continue with. However, my most current passion now is my start with animation. I desire to show my world through film, I believe it will benefit the visuality and be even more immersive if it moved.