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GROBIÁN (THE BRUTE)

Is The Brute also lurking inside you? Painter Petr Nikl and photographer Ondřej Szollos embarked on a journey to lure and woo him out in a one-of-a-kind picture essay.

The Brute.

What could I have in common with him? With that hateful narcissist? With that laughing-stock creature, psychopath, lover of fur coats, colour monochromes, helmets and constrained gestures? With the whole allegory of self-importance, overplay and haughty ridiculousness? How could I be the bad-ass Brute?

I, a shy and smiling 60-year-old boy since forever, not worn out and still 20 years older than others usually guess, under a spell of his own cage of playfulness and laughter? With bitten nails, so they won’t scratch… But who am I, exactly? Does anybody even know about themselves? In solitude without witnesses, I’m capable of spilling myself cruelly. But I’ve never punched anyone in my life. I only curse at myself, at best…

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I’m playing a scene, I’m playing with everything – mostly with myself because I both know and don’t know myself the most. I place myself in front of different types of mirrors. I like to serve as a model. I enjoy to look at my image and not recognize it. I love the feeling of amazement over what I see, mumbling: “Who’s this wacko?” My identity is clear but in order for me to act, I need to break free from it for a bit. When I transform convincingly, my identity could be obscured so well that even my closest ones start to have doubts.

I’m not a transvestite, I fancy skirts and flowing dresses, I like to portray someone else as a play-pretend. Undecipherable. To get lost and become one with the situation. To mutate beyond recognition. The Brute is the far side of me. I need to get it out of my system ostensibly and painlessly, in the end, screaming is always ridiculous. I need to mock my Brute.

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The Bad-Ass Brute is a result of studio modelling where I was instructed by photographer Ondřej Szollos between 2017 and 2018. Ondřej brought some fur coats, others we bought at a thrift shop in Ruzyně. The poses have advertisement lighting. Modelling photography is a mirage that adds to the imaginary beauty and pushes the staged product onto us. What I tried was a modelling of a person who looks pretty bad and will hardly set an example and, paired with what he’s wearing, is an absurd ad for second-hand clothes, without a target group. He becomes a bait, someone’s cue for amazement. For change. For play. As I hope…

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Petr Nikl (8th November 1960 in Zlín, Czechia) is a Czech painter, musician, theatrical actor and a former member of an art group Tvrdohlaví (loosely translated as The Hardheaded or The Stubborn), which he co-founded in 1987. He finished his studies at the Secondary School of Applied Arts in Uherské Hradiště and the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague at the studio of Arnošt Panderlík and Jiří Ptáček. In the beginning, he mostly pursued painting, drawing and graphic arts. His paintings carry a distinctive subtle colour palette. Petr Nikl is a 1995 Jindřich Chalupecký Award laureate.

Ondřej Szollos was born in Šternberk, Czechia. He studied documentary direction and camerawork at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Slovakia. As a director of photography, he shot a feature film called The Good Death that was critically acclaimed and awarded at the following festivals: One Wold 2019, Best Overall Film Strasburg International Film Festival, Montgomery International Film Festival 2019, Best Documentary Cinematik IFF 2019. His commercial clients include the Reflex magazine or the Pilsner Urquell and Kozel breweries. He’s been collaborating with Petr Nikl over a long period of approx. 15 years in more or less the same fashion – they call each other during the day and go shoot spontaneously in the evening.

Photography / Ondřej Szollos

Text & Model / Petr Nikl

Translation / Františka Blažková

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