Your illustrations are known for conveying a message through catchy black humour. How do you approach the use of humour in your artwork, especially when dealing with themes of torture, death, and sensuality?
I feel like sometimes I overthink and take everything too seriously. And so I have to relieve this with humor. I guess it’s a coping mechanism that helps me in everyday life. I understand that not everyone always gets it or finds it funny as well.
Your artwork also explores themes of coexistence of humans and nature. Can you share the inspiration behind these motifs and the message you aim to convey?
I map the changes in my relationship with nature, ecology and climate. During the period when I felt the strongest feelings of helplessness, anxiety and anger, my motifs included post-apocalyptic scenes, self-sacrifice for the sake of nature, for example, watering withered nature with human blood, a revenge for nature for what humans have done to it. In the end, I found that for me this approach didn’t quite work as a catharsis, and instead made the spiral of anxiety descend even further.
So, I began to deliberately seek out something like a “healing process”, a positive utopian vision, and more recently I have been interested in the ideal symbiotic relationship of all living organisms rather than realistic scenarios. When I paint, I put myself in the shoes of each living entity, and in the course of my work I think about how they might interact with each other in a meaningful way, and have a living relationship with each other. I create tiny events where action provokes reaction, one builds on the other, creating a network of dynamic relationships, a homeostasis, a natural environment that is unique and unrepeatable.
The symbiosis and interconnection of dualities, such as the natural versus the artificial and male versus female, are central in your work. How do you achieve this fusion of opposites in your illustrations, and what do you hope viewers take away from these juxtaposed elements?
Things are often not as they seem. I try to go deep and to the bottom of things, guessing things to consequences sometimes leads to contradictory conclusions. I like it when the interaction of opposites creates absurd situations.
Your illustrations contain references to fertility rituals. How do these elements contribute to the narratives in your art, and what do you want your audience to feel or understand from these depictions?
Not only fertility rituals, but also other biological aspects of life; I perceive that there is something magical about them that never ceases to amaze me. “The World Passes Through Man” was a series of paintings where the human body after death and during life is not just a subject, but an environment through which the next life passes. I’m fascinated by the idea that we are home to billions of other organisms and how we are actually connected to our surroundings through our intake and excretion, even on that literal, physiological level, but certainly somehow spiritually and symbolically.
The use of textile backgrounds in your art adds a unique dimension to your work. Can you explain the significance of this choice and how it complements the themes and messages in your illustrations?
I came to that somehow over time. I was looking for different ways to create some interesting reproductions of my paintings, also because my friends were often interested in them. I often use my paintings to create clothes, various accessories. I also use a lot of digital printing on satin, which can reproduce nicely even watercolor’s subtle gradations and details. I like to work with printed textiles in spatial installations variously hung on beads. I would like to achieve some of the fetishistic attraction that fashion, shoes or jewellery have for some people… I also use risograph prints for reproduction. I’m a big fan of zines, diy publications. The form of a notebook, or publication is suitable for working with the stories indicated; creating a zine is often the conclusion of a series of drawings, paintings, illustrations.
Your art delves into the repressed layers of our imagery, frustrations, fears, and desires. Could you elaborate on this exploration and how it is reflected in your artistic process and final pieces?
I try not to put any limitations on myself and display topics that I am currently attracted to. I’ve always been drawn to exploring what’s beneath the surface. But when I want to get to the essence of something, I often find that the essence is different from the social constructs. I think it’s somehow related to a false morality. I don’t want to deal with controversial topics just for the sake of it, but when I come across something that is taboo in my work, it usually doesn’t deter me from developing the idea.
Can you discuss the role of (Freudian) psychology in your artwork and how it influences your creative expression and storytelling?
I’ve never really done much psychoanalysis on myself. For common problems like anxiety, environmental grief, panic attacks, I find cognitive behavioural therapeutic orientations or techniques based on mindfullness more helpful. But I do believe that in the process of creation, the imagination is activated by some of our subconscious/unconscious layers.
On the other hand, Freud lived in a time when women had a lower status; different traumas and complexes occurred as compared to today. I don’t think, for example, that all women subconsciously desire to have a penis. Although women with penises also appear frequently in my work. 🙂 But it’s not related to Freud, in my ideal world gender doesn’t really matter much and is rather fluid.
What other artists or movements have inspired or influenced your artistic style and approach to conveying complex themes through your illustrations?
In general, I’m mainly interested in atypical things on the border between illustration and free art, my favourite artists include Heather Benjamin, Aleksandra Waliszewska, Davor Gromilovic, David Jien, the collectives Le Dernier Cri, United Dead Artists, various art brut artists like Henry Darger, but also Czech medium drawing.
We definitely influenced each other with my friends and former classmates at art school. I think we overlap in a lot of themes with the painter Maruška Butula, and during my studies we were very involved in events organized by Kača Olivová or the artists and tireless music organizers the Pridals. I sometimes collaborate with the designer Hanka Kubešová, the riso press Kudla Press, Hurikán Press, and the Petrograd Collective, where I was in residence. I have participated in many zine and comic festivals in the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries.
From the music scene, I would mention mainly electronic music projects of artists, for example I Love 69 Popgejů, with whom we also released a split (cassette), or Schwarzprior, and of course the members of our band ◊►≈ with whom we spent a lot of time and were like a family (Mojmír – mom, Petr – dad, Eva, Pavla – bad kids Matyáš – the favorite pet). During high school I was already in the hardcore punk community formed around the club Killer, which was in our town. I would definitely add environmental organizations like Limity jsme my, Fridays For Future, Parents For Climate. To this day I have a lot of friends in all of these areas, I feel more or less an active part of them, and they have definitely influenced me in terms of opinion and aesthetic. I’m sure I’ve forgotten an awful lot of people and I’m not even trying to name them all because it would be too much.
Finally, what do you hope your audience takes away from your illustrations? What emotions, thoughts, or discussions do you aim to spark through your thought-provoking and symbolic imagery?
I guess I’m trying to entice the audience with the illustrative style on the surface to descend into some darker layers within us. I guess to show that even some darker things can be beautiful. I often see nature as dark and cruel. Even though we may not like some things, they are there and we will all have to deal with them, like death.