The work of Josef Bolf (1971) is mainly accessible through his captivating paintings and drawings. At PAF, he will present five new videos that have been shown at his exhibitions over the last several years. Videos with motifs of performance, radio plays and classic puppet films are all part of Bolf’s artistic world, with various features of animation and stories within stories.
MM I remember one of your exhibitions, for which the source of inspiration was the film Total Recall. Do you work directly with film compositions or mise-en-scene which you then “transpose” into paintings or drawing cycles, or are these more random or free associations, derived from film themes or citations?
JB I work with film associations quite often. I am, however, not always sure what type of film or what type of composition will influence my work. These references are more like elements of my work process; many things emerge from automatic drawings that are influenced more by photography than film. It can be said that by mixing these two sources, certain mise-enscenes emerge. Links and references are just part of my visual memory and experience, with which I can work further. A sentence from Total Recall fascinated me with the confidence with which it unambiguously hammered our basic experience: “You are not you, you are me.” It was meant more as an ironizing allusion for the whole exhibition, accenting a personal subject.
MM What served as the impulse to shoot a puppet film?
JB The immediate impulse to make the first film was a series of paintings, or actually one work from 2008. I felt like more is happening in it than the image is able to communicate and that is calling for motion and film time. The second impulse was then the opportunity to present something new at the Prague Biennale 2008, curated by Karel Císař. It was a project following up on the previous biennale, concentrating on the changes in the work of selected artists.
MM From a craft point of view, the work with puppets interests me, both during their manufacture and the shooting itself. Have you worked with puppeteers, film productions?
JB At first, I wanted to create the puppets myself, but in the end I left this task to professional puppeteers from Minor (Bára Čechová). I found that during the manufacture, you have to keep many rules and facts in mind, and I did not really want to occupy myself with those. The puppets were operated by actors (Tomáš Běhal, Buchty a loutky). It was convenient for me to perceive how the environment, which I only knew as a flat image, turned into a coherent world. Since the shooting was actually a recording of live action, I did use something like film production (building the set, lighting it). With the first film, I took care of it myself together with photographer Jiří Málek; with the second one, it was taken care of by Prague Quadriennale (Jakub Matějka) and I cooperated with the photographer Darko Stulič.
MM Your last video, Heavy Planet was made by overpainting a picture. Do you ever write down notes or stories that later become models for paintings or videos, or do you just work with the idea of the painting that originates during the process of painting as well as the overpainting?
JB Sometimes I do work with text, but I do not see it as an explanation or commentary for my paintings, usually an independent whole is created, such as Golden Age (2000), the text You, which is also a part of the eponymous video from 2008, Unfinished days (2014), published in the Galerie Na shledanou magazine) and the collaboration with Ondřej Štindl on the novel Mondschein. Plus the text for the voice over in Heavy Planet actually was the first one. I regularly write down my dreams. Sometimes I make notes from a text I am reading or from what I hear. Texts describe images, ideas… They inspire my work a little bit, but they do not always match the result.
Josef Bolf interviewed by Martin Mazanec
6 Dec | 1:30 pm | FA
Josef Bolf: Heavy Planet presentation
Living Room / Obývací pokoj CZ | 2008 | 10′04You / Ty CZ | 2010 | 15′48
Corridor / Chodba CZ | 2011 | 15′37″
Destruction / Destrukce CZ | 2011 | 14′12″
Heavy Planet / Těžká planeta CZ | 2015 | 10′28″
Part of the Festivals of Live Cinema project activities.