Since ever I do work on portrait of people close to me: mostly family and friends. This occasional distraction within my own “program-work” becomes more and more regular now. Therefore I paint those I love, admire and feel related to or those I miss, like my grandparents who recently passed away. Self portraits are being part of this as well.
I’ve came to a decision of painting the intimate garden spaces. The moste intimate ones are flower-pots and vases – isn’t it? Therefore I paint those I possess. The first attempt dates back to 2010 when I painted a big canvas which as for object plants growing in the bathroom of my Parisian apartment.
I do focus on vegetal world for couple of months already. This is nothing new for me as I’ve been finding inspiration in plants for years. For this time things seem to bring me hapiness since I’ve returned to what I’ve done before exploring the possibilities of liquid paint technique. These days the flat surfaces of oil paint get a new addings: some sort of ornement to sublime and destroy their presence within an composition at the same time. It took me some time to understand how important the excitement of an eye is to appreciation and comprehension of a work of art. Gardens, parks, flowers in vase or plants growing in pots seem to satisfy me and my curiosity more than any other ‘object of interest’ ever did before. For my thirtieth anniversary which is to come in august I turned myself somehow naturally to these ‘subjetc and spaces’ that I was not able to explore in my early childhood due to a heavy allergies. Nowadays they bring me joy and pleasure just as does the fact of transposing them into art. ‘Aux cyprès de Villa d’Este’ was the first of this attempts to interpret a feeling of the garden and was based on the previous experience I’ve got while working on moroccan paintings such as ‘A Garden’ picturing Majorelle garden in Marrakech and ‘Secrets of Marrakech’- a view on a minaret of great mosque in Marrakesh throught the gardens that surround it in 2012 and 2015 respectivly. But quickly I’ve shifted the attention to coulours and relations between them.
I had a chance (or if you want to speak about privilege let’s say so) to visit India – motherland to our spirituality, land where all world major religions come from. In March 2014, my long-dreamed wish to discover this subcontinent came true. This tour, indeed not very long, as I have stayed in the country for 21 days only, lead me from dusty Rajasthan to tropical West Bengal, crossing Hindustan from west to east at it’s northern part through Gangetic Plains. The discovery of all those jewels you find in books on splendour of Hindustani past both Muslim and Hindu was my principal aim. Honestly, I was more looking to experience the great oriental dream and had no idea of getting deeply in Indian present I thought to prefer to today India it’s glorious colonial passé.
Just imagine for a second that the first thing I saw, after about four hours drive through waking-up country, was the Taj Mahal. You’d expect it to be a beginning of a great journey to this past I came to look for, a revival of this great oriental dream I’ve got so obsessed with, because this is what the promises about travelling to India are.
I must admit not feeling very comfortable about this Taj-Mahal-let’s-have-a-coctail-dear India experience at all. I found this bright white marble thing at the back of the mogul garden quite bad taste first comparing it to some kind of a huge wedding cake, the air was thick and sky not clear, my smiling-shiny-happy-oriental-dream Indians seemed to me just all too aggressive and ugly, no flowers in gardens, no lovely tiger cub to come and pet with. Where has the hell my rainbow India disappeared?
Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Amer and Jaipur were all the same: a symbol of my disappointment with this Hindustan where no elephant was waiting for me at the hotel entrance and no twenty Euro peacock feather dress adorn with diamonds possible to find. Despite my state of mind, I enjoyed the beauty of architecture we could admire everywhere we got. Dusk at Mehtab Bagh with all the Taj Mahal complex spreading in front of your eyes over the Yamuna river – breathtaking! Red Fort of Agra – splendid! Getting lost within Fatehpur Sikri abandoned city complex – an unique experience! Amer and Jaipur palaces – wonderful! I started to accept the reality of this land when we arrived to Jodhpur – The Sun City. The one I was looking forward to see the most of all, woke me suddenly up to this touching and unique contemporary India, where perfume of spices mix together with smell of excrements, and where bird singing appears within hysterical horn blowing of cars and rickshaws: this two faced India you expect but still you only want to see the beautiful side of it only. Awaken, I could now experience again all what country has offered me until now, to understand it’s value, and digest it once memory-filtered .
I always considered the memory work to be the most important part of experiencing and understanding things that happen. The reason why I never sketch in open-air is that when attired by something I just feel too impressed and can’t work immediately. Taking pictures is so useful for people easily disturbed by beauty of things. Getting back home with more than 3000 shots, each bearing a short story, I started this memory work and little by little the most important visual stimulations just appeared up over the other ones and begun to paint this interior added-value >carnet de voyage< compositions.
The big Taj Mahal image – on the river as seen from Red Fort ( this story touched me with it’s cruelty ) was one of the first paintings I worked on. Funny. I nevertheless think that this irony is quiet a nice satisfaction to the Taj and to myself as well.
Some time later – oil painings were what I worked on, still being Taj-themed, one in french manner, picturing view from my hotel room where the white silhouette of the building appears upon a wet garden entitled: l’Hôtel and the second one, influenced by Constable showing the view on banks of Yamuna river with Taj Mahal reflecting in the water – composition that re-interpretes my first taj art effort in ink.
I arrived to Rajasthani capital Jaipur in the evening after stopping shortly in Bharatpur for a lunch in one of local Maharajah’s white palaces, decorated heavily with flower ornament murals and sumptuous furniture. With thali meal served on a huge silver plate in front of me, this almost ridiculously opulent immersion into the lifestyle of Rajputana aristocracy surprised me so much, that the only way to deal with was to play the game and immerse into the role I was expected to take in such a situation. I did right because with every new stage of the voyage within the fairy ‘Land of Kings’ this repeated regularly for almost a week spent in this dusty and dry state, the largest in India.
Amer seemed to be very promising when seen from the platform which serves to comfortably get on the back of a elephant so one does not have to climb on huge animal. The ascension of the hill up which the amber-coloured fort stands on, is traditionally done on the back of elephant, and it is thank to this big and slow mammal the ride is far from being comfortable. Well, you wanted to play maharajah, you got it; and all this comes with. Still this is quiet dreamy India, protected by huge yellowish walls.
Jaipur is another story. There is this City palace, nice but not even a shade of what Amer fort is, fascinating observatory, so ingenious and beautiful, and of course streets: straight and long, looking all the same: orange-pinkish walls with orange-pinkish gates, behind each gate there is another gate or another straight long street; original because from time to time a spectacular folly-building comes to amuse one’s sight. Here we’ve experienced crowd for a first time. It is surely not the crowd of Chandni Chowk in Delhi or Chowringhee in Kolkata, but still… I’ve got lot of lecture just before going to India; both Pierre Loti and Henri Michaux I’ve read shortly before leaving for tropics were impressed by this phenomenon. Michaux stays: ‘A Hindi crowd is always astonishing. It’s everyone for himself. Just like in Varanasi, in the Ganges, everyone for himself, focused on his own salvation.’ Streets of the walled city are crowded from early morning to dusk. It’s even worst in the new city where traffic jams are constant all day, except for Holi festival; in the morning the city seems to be a desert. Streets are empty, from time to time there are some youngsters on motorbike passing around or group of boys and young man giving the portion of colourful fun expected by tourists certainly disappointed by this calm which got nothing to do with raw celebrations around bonfires from yesterday evening.
Then Jodhpur, five hours from Jaipur by train, just at the limits of Thar desert is incredible! It’s magnificent fort looking like big hard rock from outside hides splendid palace all made of Brussels-lice-like sculpted stone. From here, silent desert is only few kilometres far. Passing through this poor land for six hours by car is like climbing the stairways to heaven. So exceptional, so touching! Indian desert is full of life. Black-buck antelopes, woman walking beside the road bearing jars on their heads in the middle of nowhere just like shepherds with their animals. We are heading to visit some villages of past glory with houses painted in exterior and interior. People are nice, some first of rare smiles one can get in India cheered me up. White Pushkar, one of holy places of Hinduism, build around a sacred pool not far from vibrant city of Ajmer, ( home to a shrine of muslim saint Mo-inuddin Chishti) seems not to escape to mass tourism, not to the domestic only. Hebrew inscriptions more numerous than those English and French ones cover main street of Pushkar, in Ajmer white Muslim crowd in the street leading to the mosque makes of walking quiet a hectic experience. It’s completely full in here! But what a pleasure to enter to the Sufi shrine filled with perfume of roses and jasmine!
After one week spent by touring Rajasthan, on second day of Holi festival we reached Delhi by express train from Jaipur at around 10 am. The fact there are many birds in India everywhere was clear to me despite I haven’t seen any vulture I desired to spot so desperately yet but rich avifauna of Delhi truly surprised me. The sky of this huge vibrant capital is never clear not only because of smog and pollution but there always is a bird or rather few flying about your head. Numerous kites and pigeons overflying monuments are a nice metaphor to the people of this double-faced capital. Those kites made me think of sage Jungle book character Cheel. People say there is nothing to see in Delhi, but such statements are not true at all. There is plenty to be seen, to wonder and to learn in Delhi. Of course not every place of tourist interest really is interesting, but wonders of ancient capitals dropped here and there within the city are amazing. You feel like an early XIX century explorer when taking a walk in masterfully composed Lodi Gardens or getting lost in a bush of Mehrauli archaeological park and bazaars of Delhi surely are a true vanity fair.
Yes, the oriental dream is still alive, to my big surprise. Places like Haridwar, Srinagar or Lucknow, this tourist forgotten city, has revealed it to me in all it’s splendour. Stuffed by Shia Islam monuments and gardens, the old city of opulent nawabs has so much to offer. And it has offered me since the first moment I stepped out of the train. Three days of pure pleasure before leaving to Varanasi. The mythical holy city of Hindus. And what a surprise there.
I was warned by someone who’s told me: >Varanasi is a strange place, as soon as you’re there your only thought is to get out of it, but as soon as you’re off it your only wish is to come back.< An absolute true! There is nothing more peaceful than morning or evening boat ride on Ganges when ghats are veiled in this grey-blueish and grey-purple mist; nothing more seducing than evening aarti accompanied by music, lights and flowers floating down the river stream; well, in Varanasi stairways to heaven lead down to the river, because as soon as one climb them up back to the Shiva city he sudenly found himself in hell on earth. I barely could have ever find more hysterical place than this. Only wish is to get back to ghats, to observe river and people bathing. There is this western obsession to make of live on ghats a performance, and tourists are so intrusive to hygiene they consider to be very intimate in Europe, Japan or America. I admit I did the same. You can’t not to do so. Watching people wash themselves becomes the show one gets here as it is almost impossible to get into the temples within the city. Westerners become rude and immoral, they might be hypnotised or under spell of such intimate behaviour of Indian people, everything is done openly from teeth-washing to waiting for death on stairs in some corner or under some tree; even cremation act – and this is the point tourist are most disrespectful- is done on eyes of everyone who passes by. Privacy of hygiene and dying sacredly intimate in our culture is what excites tourists from western world. They can not imagine the violation of their privacy by someone who’d introduce himself to their bathroom to take picture or to make a whole show about a member or their family being buried – but everyone does the same. It is an excitement about death that push some of them to climb to the terraces upon burning ghats to observe death bodies being consumed by fire. I did not – it was impossible to me to even pass the burning ghat closely. I saw some poor man body being half burned by fire because of insufficiency of wood, so his members only were flushed into the river where I could spot a Sadhu corps (certainly not well attached to the stone that should keep it under water) floating by the boat. Well not all of us tourist have left our moral at home and not all of us act disrespectfully when abroad. At the end leaving Varanasi was releasing, but after couple of days missing Varanasi phase started.
Discovering colonial, so westernised, Kolkata – diving into the Indian dream again in all those Bengali villages of vivid green charm, adorned with palm trees and banana plants, rice and wheat fields the sky reflects lime green palette of, small lakes mirroring all this particular little world and it’s lyrical sunsets particularly touching and beautiful – I loved it all – even this immense marble Victoria monument, massive and sovereign just as the first empress of India used to be. Intellectual capital of India has it’s own charm. Welcoming atmosphere is palpable at every of her many neighbourhoods so divers but all equally populous. Spiritual centre of the city is Kalighat, quiet a nice quarter with this original temple dedicated to terrible female deity of time, and death. It’s almost impossible to see the three eyed idol with golden tongue so numerous are both her devotees and her guardians in the interior of temple covered with hundreds of bells. Rush about the blessing from goddess is almost as intense as rush about transporting stuff (you always wonder what’ inside of numerous boxes and parcels) at Armenian street – one of crowdiest streets ever can experience. Leading from University on Mahatma Ghandi Road to the Hooghly river and it’s ghats where is nice to sit and observe men in the sunset, huge Howrah bridge connecting Kolkata to the railway station (of the same name as the engineer work of art) at the opposite river bank.
An eighteen-century note book was once offered to me. Of something less than an A3 size, wrapped in paper, the animal, calf or a donkey skin beige cover, coulpe of missing pages, it is magnificent. For a while, I thought about selling it to some professional ‘faussaire’ as it’s filigrees show an royal french symbol of lilly and a crown and, at the opposit of the sheet an indescriptible writing followed by a capital ‘f’ and I found this could perfectly host any false Fragonard or an early David sketches, but I’ve changed my mind, willing to keep this jolly object to myslef. And I’ve decided to vandalise it’s historical value with my own drawings, re-creating an imaginery ‘travel sketch-book’ or ‘carnet de voyage’ as French say of a journey to Asia. This would of course reflect my own experiences on the so called yellow continent, starting from Istanbul, where I’ve travelled in 2013 via Holy land, I’ve visited several times from 2010 to 2014 and India (2014&2015) as far as China and Japan, leaving between destinations, blank pages to be filled with sketches of places I’m only getting to get in the future.
My ‘Voyages en Asie’ sketch book pages yet coverd by ink drawings and paintings:
June 2015 and 2016. I got to Weligama on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, with a delivery of paintings the owner Anna Egorkina asked me for. Some of my paintings and prints were previously acquired by owner of Eraeliya Villas and Gardens and I was delighted when she asked me for more painting to be done for one of the superior rooms in the main villa: Samaya. The orderer’s idea was to have a three round paintings hung up under the roof, so they’d overlook the space of the chamber. I’ve decided to work with animal species endemitic to the island. Six weeks after the primary sketches, the paintings were drying all over my livingroom, and waiting to be wrapped and shipped to Eraeliya Villas and Gardens – a little piece of paradise on Earth. They joined my other decorative panels: “Peafowl paintings” in the lobby and “Foo dog paintings” in Nelum villa.
The other room on the same floor: Ramaya, also has a painting that I’ve made in 2015, it serves as a cover of the TV board. The subject is young Rama during an evening puja in a pond surrounded by tropical flora:
My first ever published illustrations for a story book by Milan Kališ, an young Slovak author, handle with both fascination and critique of urban life, just like the knotty, heavy jungle-like texts of the edition are. Milan gave me free hand to come with some drawings for the collection of short (and long) analysis of contemporary city life. This was rather challenging, as his writings are as complex and as detailed as could be and there was, to my eyes, no need to ‘illustrate’ these story or transfer part of them into drawing. But the idea came to me not to ‘base’ my illustration on text, but to create an independent art work to ‘add’ value to the artistic aspect of literature, better than to just describe with images what Milan brilliantly says. The trash tattoo-like or graph-like urban drawings in black and white appeared a clear option then to me, and as despair and efforts to get rid of it seemed to be the central point of his story-telling genius, I immediately thought the theme of a ‘sin’ would give the effect I looked for – not actually depicting the story on ‘other media’ level, but this could create a new story within the book based on the same kind of ‘research’ as Milan’s stories are. The choice has been made. Under the influence of my recent trips to the very medieval Avignon and Florence, I decided not to ‘picture’ the sin as an act, but I’ve turned to the medieval iconography of ‘sin-in-itself-pictured’. Giotto, Bosch, Dûrer etc. constituted for me the starting point of my research. The old playing-cards forms were another source of inspiration. The ‘seven deadly sins’ series was born and Milan accepted to integrate this to his book ‘ Rozdrásané duše ‘ ( – this would be translated as something as: Disjont souls).
The book can be purchased it any bookshop in Slovakia, or on-line here: http://www.martinus.sk/?uItem=218945
Signed and numbered giclée prints on fine art paper of these illustrations 30×20 cm can be purchased by contacting me by e-mail for 350 € (7 prints in total + international shipping included).
After being focused on ancient greek and roman art for couple of years, I’ve decided to turn myself to French statues during the 2015 summer. Two couples of paintings are the result of long studies in the Louvre musuem: first are mid-sized marvelous alabaster neo-calssic figures depicting young men, based on work by Pierre Julien and Louis Petitot, the other two interprete magnificent bucolique pair of marbles by Coustou, one of my favourite sculptors of baroque era. Every of these two pairs are concieved as a decorative elements to adorn an interior, following a principle of XVIth and XVIIIth cenuty ‘pendants’.
Nude and landscape painting truly are two themes that seduce me the most in painting. The reason might be the fact body is some kind of reduced scale landscape, but what interest me primarily is the graphic expression in the shape of a human body once reduced to surface. Volumes never were something that excite me in terms of their ‘overwhelming’ tendencies upon the smooth and flat and I have always had the same position regarding light I use only to translate an idea of an volume rather than spacious dimension of an object itself. That is the reason I admire the chromatic construction of ‘flat’ paintings rather than those recreating the true and natural profoundness within a canvas. This is why Duccio or Botticelli are closer to me than for example Mantegna and Giorgione.
I’ve started to work with nudes quiet early, getting my first drawings done after pictures of famous works of art reproduced in books. After that I’ve started naturally to work with my own body. But the first real idea to get deeper into the discovery of possibilities to translate body within a picture came with my first real series of canvases entitled: White paintings. The idea was to set a body into a white space to better explore the colour relations in this genre, old and noble, of picturing human beings as their body was art. My research were based on separation of surfaces I’ve worked since 2005.
In 2010 there still was this interest in what body is but the graphics changed and split to two different direction as whole my work did. First has preserved the smoothness of prior painting and the second one has became more casual and less radical in treatment of neighbouring colour surfaces.
While people nowadays feel rather comfortable about female nude, depiction of a naked male still disturbs in some way. I think it may be because of the ‘apparent’ sex parts. And I think balls disturb event more than penis itself. The idea of how to ‘introduce’ male nude into contemporary art without turning to a rather ‘ashamed’ academic was what preoccupied me mostly. There of course is the work of gay artists like Tom of Finland e.g.but this seems to have some satirical and mainly ‘focused’ undertone. Mapplethorpe’s work on the other hand is far to documentary and I don’t see any way how painting could be involved in such work without being ‘picturing reality’ based. Even Warhol’s ‘Torsos’ or Sylvia Sleigh’s naked males don’t come with an idea of proud masculinity. Funny that I’ve found most of the inspiration sourcing from Titian, Manet and Matisse – all working almost exclusively with female nudes.
Once again working on portraits. I think that artistic represention of a person is one of most challenging disciplines in art no matter if it does represent preson portrayed in hyperrealistic way or in Picasso style.
Personally, I do enjoy working on portraits very much. There is always something exciting in waiting how person will react and understand the vision of someone else on his/her face or personality, if you want. Two Exemples of the same model I portrayed in 2008 and 2010. Look at this narrative composition consisting of three oils:
And same person portrayed two years later, the narrativeness is still to be found here, but it’s expressed in completely different way:
In 2008 I used sequel to get the story inside my painting, in 2010 it was a close up on a look out of frame which gives to my work that cinema-like feel Cindy Sherman use in her work too the one that makes the observer question about what the secret of the girl might be.
Slef-portraiting, the most decontracted and casual portrayal process for me. ideas of doing selfportraits come and go, sometimes I suddenly catch one and realize it, mostly on paper but canvas happens to get involved too once the pushing is too exuberant.
There is no mean od keeping an visual diary like Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo used to do, I just work and analyse my face when I feel like. Nevertheless, I can say there are some stange pushings making me relaise a portrait when something important is going on in my head, much often under life-change or other similar circumstances.
I found one self-portrait dating back to 2006 shortly after my first voyage to Scotalnd paying a visit to my aunt ( I didn’t take a picture of it). I do remember another one I worked on while living in Brussels (now in private collection). In Paris I got to work on two or three of them in various and quiet diverse styles.
Shíshī in China or komainu in Japan, chinese guardian lions ( often called Fu-dogs in Occident) as a element of far-eastern culture always fascinated me by on one hand the meaning of this imporant symbol and on the other by this exoctic interpretation of the prinicpal of believes in far-eastern countries as an equivalent of religious folklore just as the virgin or a crucifix in christianity, star of David or mezuzah in judaism or a hand of Fathma in islam.
In Shanghai I have found a very beautiful example of the picturing the pair of these guardian lions – inspiring:
* Chinoiserie /ʃɪnˈwɑːzəri/ a decorative style in Western art, furniture, and architecture, especially in the 18th century, characterized by the use of Chinese motifs and techniques. (Oxford dictionary)
First new chinoiseries are here! Yes, it took me a couple of months to finish them and it was quiet a work. Starting with two Chinese gods of prosperity whom I destoryed shortly after an unsuccess in colour scheme, I painted Chao Kungming’s >Black Tiger< rather a merry depiction of this mythological creature remining me of famous Blake’s Tyger-Tyger poem. Yes, his saliva and semen do symbolise welfare and prosperity:
The couple of Shishis ( 石獅 ) in gold on black background comes from my personal acquisition of two XVIII century like wooden shishi statues in Beijing earlier this year. I wanted to picture them in very traditional gold-black lacked furniture like way, adding a bit of trash-like feel to each composition making these gremlin-shaped fellows looking more funnier. The result is a very lovely pair of ‘pendants’ that would nicely decorate an chinese/chinese-eque room.
The last chinese-esque creation yet is a japanese-chinese thematic mixture titled >Moonless night in Shanghai< as hommage to ‘Paris of the Far East’, this huge city so inspiring and attractive by her singularity within China. Two bats – again symbols of good fortune – are the central theme of this painting, together with plum ( 梅 ), highly valued for it’s beauty blossoming in the middle of the night becomes a synonym of Shanghai, her vitality, and her capacity to attire. So the city lights attract people in the very same way as a simple lamp hypnotise moths or a frangrance of a flower attires bees. There can – of course – be felt a strong influence of japanese art, especially in composition own to ukiyo-e which I admire and collect since two years already. The colour scale of the background is very japanese-like too so the picture is kind of ‘bringing China and Japan together’ .
‘Early Spring morning in Beijing’ a pendant of above pictured Shanghai painting is at once more decorative and more western-minded. No japanese influence but vivid chinese-esque colours are here to frame an empty hutong street scene under red morning sun dominated by mythological Fenghuang or Hoho bird, symbol of virtue and yin-yang union, seated on the branch over the death body of a bluebird. Just as grey clouds are there to remind of decorativeness of the work in ‘Moonless night in Shanghai’ four flowers of Beijing composition adorn grey hutong atmosphere and express the peaceful transition in which the chinese phoenix replace the bluebird’s domination over the curved branch of a death tree.
Yet the last of this series entitled ‘Spirit of the Night’:
The origin of this painting is to be found in my short voyage to Moscow in autumn 2009. This huge city left in me many impressions and I wanted to work with this russian capital as with an object for one of my paining unsuccessfully for several months. Being a fan of Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows (1958) I re-viewed the movie once again in very beginning of 2010 and I have decided to reinterpret the opening scene of this master-work of French cinema in which two main characters of the movie, Julien and his mistress Florence have got a telephonic conversation just before Julien is getting ready to murder Florence’s husband. The second inspiration was the world-famous pop-art painting M-Maybe by Roy Lichtenstein and it’s heroine a blond girl waiting for a man who for an unexplained reason doesn’t come to an appointment. Well, ‘Moscow-affair’ is about cheating and about the secret relation between a man on the phone and someone at the other end of the line. The fact that the hero portrayed is married can only be understood if one sees a ring on a man’s hand.
With the spying clichés creating the suspicious atmosphere all around reputation of Moscow I put all this inspirations and elements together to create a painting of big narrative importance – quiet
unusual within my recent work.
This painting largely corresponding to my ‘Moscow-affair’ in terms of narrativeness and representation, was the last one of this short series and precessed the B&W series of painting I begun in 2010 with the close-up painting titled ‘Les Heures’ (now in private collection in Paris) inspired by Viginia’s Woolf phenomenal story of Mrs. Dalloway. Nevertheless the title of this picture as well as the portrayal of it’s heroine find roots in one of most significant works of classic European modern: August Macke’s Woman in Green Jacket. This painting (today in Cologne) pictures from back a lonesome lady in green jacket in a lovers wood either waiting for her lover or abandoned by him. Despite of vivid and joyful colours the whole feeling of this masterpiece is rather melancholic or even sad. I decided in my ‘DIGJ’ to imagine the lady of Macke’s painting and to give her a face and so I tried to introduce to painting the expression of her hidden face.
I was profoundly moved by expressions of Warhol’s female models and a quiet melancholic once of certain of them like on Mildred Scheel’s portrait or on one of Princess’ Caroline portraits and I wanted to work on this in my paintings as well and I actually did because both of my paintings ‘DIGJ’ as well as ‘The Hours’ handle with female melancholy and with moves in mind of a woman. ‘DIGJ’ is also in certain regard an homage on August Macke’s work and first wave of German expressionism but can also be seen as an artist’s whim and nothing more.
Blow Job & Shot (2010)
No, it has got nothing to do with Andy Warhol’s silent film, it only is a close up picture of a whore giving a blow job; and Yes, the man on this painting is reduced to the simple idea of a penis as well as the woman is to the simple scheme of vanity with her ear-ring and her flashy red lips. The pendant of this painting is the ‘Shot’ picturing expressive face of a man looking from above to the unseen figure – what is going on? Is she/he offering him sex services? Or did he just figured something out about her/him? Is he looking to her/his eyes or her/his body? Can we be sure she/he is alive? What shot it’s going on here – a gun shot or cum shot? What happens is only to be imagined – the inquiet features of his facial expression make us think that something has turned wrong during the action. What it may be is rather unclear and invite to a personal interpretation of the scene.
It took me more than a year to realise a tatooed male nude painting I was bearing in my mind since my first trip to Japan. The design wasn’t very clear hence the fact of not being able to get to the expression until I’ve met my model as well as commissioner of this painting I’ve decided to entitle ‘Tattoo’. Getting back to my 2008 graphical style of painting developped during my work on ‘White paintings’ series I present on white background canvas this beautiful and sensuous back covered with tattoo. Yes it’s looking hot and that’s exactly how I meant it!
Based on eastern masculine pictural sensuality the model is here to represent an image more than a individual.
Look at this Goh Mishima’s stamp ( Wakamono series – detail) –
– reminding that in Japan as well as in Occident the tattoo stands as a symbol of sensuality. Despite the fact of my model being a Malayan Chinese I decided to confront his tattooed body to pure, immaculate background: more japanese- or corean-like artistic expression. The tattoo in my painting replace the identifiable features of face imposing it-self as a dominating mark over the whole body or if you want over the whole personality of my model. Interesting…
White paintings series was my first real intellectual effort to create a homogeneous universe using picture as a bearer of some aesthetic idea. I started to work on it in 2008 developing structural language of flat chromatic surfaces neighbouring in harmonious way and putting aside all true perspective or natural light creating volumes. My painting has become extremely smooth and quiet, almost cold and impersonal. The series I’ve explored all possibilities of graphic style inherited from expressionists and fauves in pop-art manner, exclusively was oriented to picturing of a body. The core of the series was made in Brussels between summer 2008 and spring 2009, but some later addition were made in Paris between fall 2009 and fall 2013.
Yes, I am a chronic traveler. It has been like this since my late 17 when I get abroad alone for a first time, hitch-haking from my home-country through Austria to Italy. My first travel painting dates back to this summer spent in port of Leghorn ( Livorno) and Tuscan countryside. I was infected by chronic travel fever during this adventurous enterpise that inspired me deeply. It was in 2005 and in December of that year I rushed to Scotland, another inspiring country I dicovered in wintertime atmosphere in northern lights. Edinburgh, in the same title as Florence was a great revaletion to me. Two years laters later, missing Italy terribly, I travelled to Rome. The first travel canvas is dating back to march 2007, executed shortly after my return from Eternal city:
Strongly motivated I returned to Tuscany in the summer 2007 and got to Bavaria returning back from Florence home. In Budapest in Autumn. In Naples and Pompei in December just before moving to Belgium where from very beginning of 2008 I work on small canvases. In Brussels I started to work and produce as much as never before.
I started with souvenirs of places I have visited. Naples, Pisa, Pompei, Budapest, and Florence and Edinburg – two cities I was moved by:
We are still in 2008. I am in Marrakech in March, discovering for a first time not only coulour of another continent and those of Arabic culture, but at the same time landscape and the most important of all: the Sahara desert. I work on a series of paintings immediately after my return from Moroco:
Paris in September, not very impressed, but I am back in November and change my mind about La Ville- Lumière where I moved in march 2009 shortly after my first exhibition in Brussels. Prague, Geneva, Moscow – I was working on paper mostly during 2009.
Back in Marrakech in March 2010 and a Grand Tour in Israel in May-June. Encounter with new, Middle-eastern aspect of Arabic culture in Acre and Jerusalem, modern architecture in Tel Aviv.
In mid-2010 I abandoned coloured composition for black and white creations for a while and in 2011. I split with my graphic style in lanscape painting, producing works more naturalistic such as ‘Grand Tour after Corot’ trilogy, exhibited in Italy in 2012, ‘The castle’, and ‘A Garden’, today in private collection in Slovakia.
Paris -here it is! The Light city is beeing my home since 4 years already and I still remember the day of 13th March 2009 when once descended of the coach arriving from Brussels to settle down in Paris I got ready to survive within this man-eater-like city rather than conquer it.
I hated Paris the first time I discovered it in autumn of the 2008 and not even six months later here I was, another of her numerous pretenders – and it has not taken look her to get me completely.
Josephine Baker sang of ‘two loves she has’ – one for the home savanna ( hehe) and the second one for Paris – I must do say I could only be able to say that there is and never could be any competition between the place I was born to and Paris with her lights when night falls on tin roofs.
The painting here was made to show ( in whatever kind of manner you would call it impressionist or not) the moment in which evening blue hour turns into twilight and lights go on more vividly on Rue Tronchet and Madeleine, Les Invalides, and Tour Eiffel enlight in their very spectacular way. The first picture represents the paining when light is diffused by paint ( blue and brown pigments in white oil paint basis) the second one when light falls on golden parts and is being reflected ( golden pigments).
“For we brought nothing into this world: and certainly we can carry nothing out.” I – Tim 6:7
Popular as no other spiritual originated theme in painting (but may be charity) appears Vanity and contemporary society loves this ‘cutest of sins’ more than any other one to reflex it’s feeling about existence. I love vanity in it’s purest appearence washed out of pride and egoism, and jelousy and arogance, I prefer to look on it not as one of sins but rather as one of passions. All art besides being artificial is vain and all honest and intelligent artist must asume the fact that art and creation itself is an act led by nothing than vanity and the desire to give an ego or at least a part of it the possibility of existence outside one’s proper being. Nothing but a search for being admired outside of creator’s person in creation – hence a wish of being admired not once as a being but twice as a being and as a creator through own creation is what makes all artist an perfect vanity adept and nothing but him. If all is vain and all is but vainty, art is a most beautiful example of this neverending incorrigible vanity of humanity. Think of death and enjoy the present day!
Kingdom of Flora, so fascinating, inspiring artists since millennia is a welcoming theme to explore in contemporary creations even if floral motives may seem quiet old fashioned today. Not only Takashi Murakami’s psychadelic flower explosions or Don Sultan’s minimalistic compositions witness how the painters interprete their curiosity about plants.
If it’s by interest in flowers in bloom or in fruits, the message interpreted by floral compositions in art can be divers: a ‘memento mori’ in vanity paintings such as marterfully composed arrangements of Dutch painters from Velvet Breughel to Van Gogh or ‘joie de vivre’ themed works of Monet and Georgia O’Keeffe. Painters all have one thing in common: curiousity about quiet life of of leaves and petals, richness of forms and colours one is ready to admire better on painting that in nature – but this is a story about human unsatisfaction with natural and fascination by artificial.
Vegetal compositions in art can also be the source of narrative tendencies and may become a story teller or at least to help the artist in developping a story or to creat a mystery within his painting. You may wanter about summer vacations memories (who’s and from where?) in Peter Doig’s painting or about who put the Watering can in here in my work >>les Plantes<< and try to figure out how it is that we see all elements from above but there is no sign of observer’s (our) feet captured here:
Of course flowers can be only, as mainly used, a simple ornament decorating ancient egyptian tomb, pompeian villa or contemporary loft. In >Lotus Flowers< I worked on five cavases of the same size, the life of a flower from it’s bloom to past blossom just to show what different states if blooming of sacred lotus look like.
>>Morocco was to me a revelation.<< Winston Churchill states in one of his articles. It was just the same to me when I first discovered this magnificent country. I dare say that Morocco is to Orient what Italy is to Europe, even if it were worth to add that the country is the very occidental one of all those we love to sum under the term of Orient. A revelation?! Yes, a very lovely one indeed.
I have visited Morocco several times. It has been haunting me for several years prior to my first trip there that took place in March 2008. The travellers gate to Morocco is undoubtedly it’s legendary city – the one that has been charming adventurers long time before Sam was playin’ it again in Casablanca – the Red city or the Ochre city or City of Roses if you want – Marrakesh. I am happy that this mythical and once an imperial town has opened to me the way to discover the way to the Arab “West”. I think that who once tasted to Morocco and liked the sensation never can but to come back again. I returned there three times more since my first enchantment with the parfumes and sounds and strange colours and atmospere and hot breeze in the South of the country in Sahara and cold mornings on the Atlas mountains foothill. For the second time in 2010 back to Marrakesh to remind me of this vivid city and in 2011 to enterprise a North African “Grand-Tour” starting in Red city and couting new discoveries in Fez and Meknes, both very unique jewels of Morocco.
I have not been painting much after my second and following visits, but the first trip – the revealing one brought to me lot of inspiration.
There was a whole collection of various compositions themed Morocco (especially Marrakesh) with nine canvases. The core of this collection has been to my great pleasure sold together to private collectors from Belgium. The Chilly Morning in Marrakesh, The Grand View of Marrakesh and In the Gardens of the Koutoubia mosque – three principal compositions (now in p.c. Dubai, U.A.E) were only the top of number of compossitions I started to work on in Brussels, Belgium soon after this first trip, that followed the first painting executed in March shortly after my return: Roofs of royal palace in Marrakesh. The Old town Gate (in p.c. Haifa, Israel), Noon in Medina (in p.c. Brussels, Belgium), The Minaret of Koutoubia (in p.c. Lyon, France) and the Gate to the Olive Garden (in p.c. Prague, Czech republic) were exhibited in May of that year during BAAF exhibition in Brussles and the Southern View once again during the TLVAAF in Tel Aviv in 2010.
The Garden followed in 2011 – picturing Majorelle garden in Marrakech and two views of Marrakech and Fez in 2011 (both destroyed). Today I am about to paint another view of Marrakesh, the city so dear to me.
A good taste paintings are reproducing, for one the interior of Rome Musei Capitolini hall in which the Marcus Aurelius’ equestrian statue is displayed, second one shows the Michelangelo’s Hall in Louvre and another one the Room of Venetian painting in Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum, or grand hall of Marrakesh city museum.
The ‘Black fire’ painting dates back to 2010 when once arrived in Paris I started to look for new style, more casual and decontracted.
There is a story behind: the hunk trying to get a contact with a prostitute – well, as we can see neither his face nor the prostitute it is up to the observer to decide how the story will continue. Are you the prostitue? And yes, the cigarette represents what it represents.
Les Heures (2010)
This Paintig (now in private collection in Paris) inspired by Viginia’s Woolf phenomenal story of Mrs. Dalloway pictures and human being lost in his/her’s thoughts awaiting or apprehending an unspecified/unexplained event. The obvious androginy of the character pictured was suggested to me by novel itself and by Warhol’s famous Blow-job movie.
First one of the series, the ‘Grand Imago’ is a portrait of ‘Antinoos de Richelieu’ (Musée du Louvre) a XVII century copy of roman marble.
Octavius Aurgustus (2012)
Behind this painting stands a famous statue Augustus di Prima Porta (Musei Vaticani, Rome) and the bronze copy of this famous marble in Sana Lucia quarter Naples.
The virgin goddess: Athena. This is the helmeted representation of her from Venician Archeological collection of Museo Correr.
Conserved in Vatican museums the worldfamous roman marble depicturing the greek Sun God in sophisticated contrapposto: Belvedere Apollo is a symbol of aesthetic perfection, ideal canon, a standard of western conception of beauty. This copy of Leochares’ marble was discovered in central Italy 1489. You can non just overlook it when wallking in Octagonal court of Pio-Clementino part of the museums; together with Laocoon it represents the Best of the Pio-Clementino collection.
The complete collection of my antiquity inspired paitings dating back to 2010 when started the Imago series with portrait of ‘Antinoos de Richelieu’ (Musée du Louvre). Using different techniques I have produced a series which counts several ‘portraits’ of famous marbles from biggest collections. Once again working with a principle of notoriety just like Andy Warhol used to do I dove into the kind of a greek/roman revival very own to the XVIII-XIX century accademicians.
Historians describe him as a man who stands behind death of his father, as a murderer of his brother and a lover of his mother, Gibbon calls him “the common enemy of mankind”. Nevertheless his beautiful viril face express perfectly aesthetic of roman stone portrait and the military character of artistic inspiration in ancient Rome.
Herakles Farnese bust from Metropolitan museum, New York reflects the idea of red and black-figured pottery of ancient Greece.
Emperor Hadrian’s favourite and lover – a boy who became god: Antinoos.
A masterwork of antiquity, this time so called Kaufmann Head – a copy of Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Cnidus in the Musée du Louvre. According to some scupltor’s muse – a courtesan named Phryne stood as a model to this statue of the goddess of love, beauty and pleasure, patroness of lesbian/sapphic love – Aphrodite – the one who recevied from Paris a golden apple with inscrption: kallistēi (meaning to most beautiful one). This ancient deity present in various cultures does inspire poets, artists and musicians even today.
So here it is – the image of Virgin Mary with a big red heart in her hands (I think this painting is due to the a very special and authentic maltese religiousity): Maltese Madonna:
I did already work with christian themes in the past and did two paintings themed similarly quiet recently, the ‘Burning Virgin eastern-canon imago’ in early 2011, a canvas titled ‘Superstar’ picturing a head of Christ, exhibited in New York in Septemberof that year, and the Bust of San Prisco in gold and silver which became a part of the Nocera Inferiore cathedral collection. Under all the impressions from the Museo Diocesano of San Prisco and all magnificent Napolitan churches splendidly decorated I am ready to start working with religious objects and works of art. I am thinking namely about some Stella Maris composition or work with Assunta or Immaculate Conception – may be.
>Superstar<is another christian-themed painting dating back to 2010. Dispalyed in New York the same year, it’s inspired by Spanish golden age Vailladolid school sculpture.
Well, here it is: Viva l’Italia!
Two years ago there was a plan born in my head to work on an important male nude canvas and I took for this a picture of quiet an ordinary gayporn movie actor I wanted to pictue in very masculine and bossy position in the same way as old masters did with female nudes. I always loved to look at the Manet’s Olympia in Musée d’Orsay and on Goya’s Maja Desnuda and I wanted to do something in mid-way between these two painitings. Of course that I knew from art-history lessons that painitng Olympia Monet has been inspired by Titian’s Venus of Urbino who himself has been inspired by Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus now in Dresden but I have never payed much attention to Titian until couple of weeks ago when clearly decided to visit Venise once again this year. The old project I have put apart for a while now came to the light of the day to me with re-exploring Titian’s work and as I said at the beginning here it is:
And my Viva l’Italia preparation sketch.
In 1652 Bernini finished his work on bust of Francesco I d’Este, Duke of Modena – an artloving ruler of Modena and Reggio nell’Emilia. This portrait in marble which stands for what is considered (with the bust of French Sun King Louis XIV by the above mentioned sculptor) as an example and standard for monarchical portraiture in Europe for nearly two centuries to come.
Portrayed in rose and light blue on dark background, my painting hasn’t got much to do with magnificent but sobber portrait of the Duke by Diego Velasquez – let’s say that this is rather an Made-in-Japan-like representation of this grandious baroque piece of art not focusing on the personality of the ruler: something that represent the un-importance of being Franceso.
126 years have passed since the opening of the famous Neuschwanstein castle to the public and since the death of Ludwig II of Bavaria that year; 90 years ago precisely Franz Kafka started to work on his last and longest novel The Castle, published in 1926. Two years ago, just after having finished reading of this Kafka’s novel I decided to re-work and put on canvas the image I have been working with several times before once agian. The beauty of Neuschwanstein castle I visited in 2007 was in such contrast with the heavy atmosphere of the novel that I get myself to work immediately trying to put these two inspirations together. Well, I know that Warhol and Richter did already a very good job on theme of this caslte but still this has showed itself as a quiet challenging issue to handle with. What I focused on mainly was a “Deceptions are more frequent than changes” quote from the Kafka’s unfinished opus. The result was rather late-19th-century-like bourgeois painting I’m very proud of.
In contrast to this, some 3 years later, I got back to the theme of Neuschwanstein, this time approaching it in very different manner:
‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’ (2010) is both a critique and hommage to modern and postmodern conception of view on art in which I have been inspired by an anonymous photograph found in a book giving to my work an dimension of a ready-made approach but at the same time I wanted to re-tell the object (the anal penetration/sex between two men) as a painting on canvas giving to the observer a possibility to assist to this sexual act in a very voyeuristic and anonymous way. I immediately associated this work to Magritte and his famous ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’ (1929) transfering meaning of the title of his canvas (‘This is not a pipe’) to :’This is not a blow-job’ because the French word ‘pipe’ could be translated as pipe and blow-job at the same time. What and for which reason do we decide to observe an art work, the scene it represents, and which sense are we ready to give it, and why ? – these were the questions that preoccupied me in my artistic research concerning this work of art.
I have always been inspired by work of Henri Matisse. Here is the pochoir work on paper infuenced by his famous Madame Matisse portrait now conserved in Copenhagen titled: La Raie Verte. The japanese influence ( quiet obvious ) is not due to any empiric far-estern inspiration but to an uknown passing-by in Paris Metro.
There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion. (Francis Bacon)
Once again, I do return to my eternal questioning of the relation between understanding the cultural heritage and re-using it’s traditions in painting. Having fallen recently under the spell of some nietzschean philosophical ideas on eternel recurrence I return to my idols and feel once again very palpitating need of turning my attention to old masters and classical academicism. Of course, manners and oppinions have obviously changed to a point that the attitude towards the picturing of nude in art must have been re-thought and re-newed in the very same way as the everyman perception of it. I think that the nude in art today isn’t only the result of continuos research on artistic heritage but has been in very important way marked or if you like – has evoluated under the pornographic industry. This only does witness the remaning taboos in our society concerning the nudity and the body just in the same way as it ever has.
Once again inspired by my favourite maestro after having visited his exhibition in Centre Georges Pompidou: Matisse: Pairs et Series to focus on art of portrait. I took my favourite model’s beautiful face to start with a variation on famous Portrait de Lydia Delectorskaya (Hermitage museum, Saint Petersburg) and sketch her portrait split by an invisible line dividing the colour composition of the picture into two parts not of the same size but of the same pictural value. I represended colour fields with help of cut coloured-paper and simply drew the portrait on this collage with black ink. It is quiet funny how this adventure based on Matisse went on very quickly to a rather familiar pop-art-like representation and turned (not so suprisingly) into warholesque painting.
Result? A very elegant portrait. I think that my graceful friend’s face dominating all the space within the composition has indeed got something of a Grace Kelly chic and charmant charisma.
In the same way as in the beginning of discovering countries in search of inspiration during my first stay Italy hit me with immense beauty and I fell in love with it’s landscapes and light Morocco, and more precisely Marrakech, has got me charmed and mesmerised me by her strange and vivid colours.
As every city around the world Marrakech as well has got her jewels hidden among red walls and dusty streets – and the most beautiful of these jewels is undoubtedly Jardin Majorelle – a landscape garden of French artist Jacques Majorelle designed in early 20th century.
Seduced by it’s colours and painting-like composition I have found lot of inspiration there. “Immediately one thinks of Henri Matisse, for we are indeed at very centre of a Matisse, soaked in colour-chilly greens, acid yellows, and hot blues,” says Pierre Bergé.
During my second stay in Marrakech I re-discovered garden in strange, hot, dusty, and very pale atmosphere that has inspired me to a large canvas ‘A Garden’ – one that pictures the painter’s villa in heavy morning light under desert white sky.
Here is the one – blast from the past. It finds itself in New York and I was particularly happy to offer him an American adventure. Considering it as one of my best paintings ever done I miss this strange fearless but full of doubts sight very much of course. The absence of colours underline quiet oppressive but very seductive atmosphere of the work. Ladies and gentlemen: the Mesmeriser.