Dukoupil Interview

Conducted by Stefan Kurten April 21, 1990

S: I would just like to talk about one thing about like your nationality. You came from Czechoslovakia to Germany. You stayed there for awhile. You became part of that so called ???? and your work got known in that time in Germany, in the beginning. And now you live in Spain and in New York. Especially after all these things happening in East Germany and in East Europe, and also I know you have been back there for the first time in I don’t know how many years, do you feel like a nationality?

No, because it’s too complicated. No. I don’t feel at all like Czech. It has never interested me, like how as a nationality I wou Id feel like.

S: We talk many times about the place. To be and live as an artist it is the perfect place. And are you still looking for that place?

I don’t know. Yeah, I’m looking for the places. But, remember also we agreed that such a place probably doesn’t exist.

S: Right, we kind of agreed on that. It might be like several places that you could travel in between. It is the first time that you spend time on the west coast in your life, I think. What do you think of San Francisco and LA. What did you prefer?

For me? I’m an old fashioned European. I would prefer San Francisco just because I could walk a little bit you know. For me something as simple and stupid as driving, I just don’t like it, I don’t like to drive all of the time.

S: Like when I was in Madrid there was this Czech artist, Antonio, and I know you support Czech artists, which I think is a great thing to do, to support artists from there. It’s just that I am going out with him in

Madrid. It seemed like one of them, Antonio, was really like on a constant LSD trip. You know like big eyes from just seeing this totally different world. Do you think it’s good for them, in general, like you know in general, like artists from there to get all the Western values and culture at once, like jumping into water.

I don’t know if it’s good, but it’s the only way. It’s the only way to jump into it, you know. They definitely need confrontation and they have to get the full information. Because in the West people were hoping in all these years that maybe in East Europe that an eastern artist would be so much different than the Americans and the Germans and the Italians because they didn’t have the information. They were thinking that they wouldn’t have the information. This was a complete illusion. People have the information, but they have like it in a very strange way.

They do not have the complete information. That’s why like people in Russia, mostly, most of the Russian artists are bad copies of the American artist. It’s terrible what’s coming from there. You may have maybe one or two really interesting artists and the rest is complete shit. And it’s the worst in Czechoslovakia. The only way is to jump in. They have to fall into it and have to have the same confrontation as everybody else.

s: I see it the same way because if they get only little bit of information, like from magazines, its worse. Flash Art is maybe the most powerful institution in Eastern Europe because people see it and then it’s like a commentary art. They make comments about art. I think in the last issue of Flash Art there is a Russian artist that looked exactly like David Selly, you know. So, why?

s: It’s kind of the question I get. Many, many people have asked already this kind of thing of all your changes you have been going through since the time when this so called German Expressionism started. And you got kind of known for changing your style for every exhibition, like you would come with something totally new. That was your trademark in a way, that you changed a lot of times. And now that you are doing these candle paintings, do you feel that now you have found something that you want to stay with? Do you want to get away from this image of changing?

Always, since I am working, always I prefer that I am staying with it, you know, that this is going to be the final thing. It’s not planned. I mean everything that I do it is not like a master plan or something. The decisions are much, much more emotional. Always, it is serious, I thought this is the final.

S: OK, So you mean it’s not really your concept of changing.


S: It’s more like it happens. It’s necessary.

It’s necessary. It’s something necessary. It’s not my concept. do this longer than I used to do other things. But, I wished I would find something like a style or something. But, on the other hand, of course I am afraid of it because I see that if in the work the whole thinking process or if you find something, if you find a form, somehow defining the form has to be in the form itself. I mean looking to find a form has to enter the form itself. If you don’t see the process of looking for a form in the form then something basic is missing in the artwork. But maybe, maybe I found something that even doing it like a couple years, still looking for form process is going to be in the painting. I don’t know.

s: As long as each painting is an experiment I think you should go on and I think they still are. I mean look how much they have changed from the first paintings in this technique that you did. And, I just love the idea for example of painting water with a candle and does the image of your painting have to do with the tyle you are using?

You have to do sort of like images that are not very refined because with a candle it is like painting with a big brush so you have an image and then you transfer it into a candle painting and you try the best and it’s like the technique itself dictates the transformation. I try always to do my best. I don’t think about anything else, just to make the best I can. If I were painting with a brush then other ideas would enter my mind and then I would try to make it more, I don’t know, more well done or worse or something. But, all these problems I don’t have with the· candle because I just try to do the best.

S: OK, so when you’ve reached that and you feel it can’t be any better and it’s not experimental anymore you go for another change?

It has to do with fighting the form. This is basically what interested me. I think that the ideal work would be to make so many different forms that your work becomes really invisible. If I think about something that my image would be ….. being invisible.

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