THE PARTICIPS OF ILLUSTRATION
I’d like you to introduce the process of you creation, the uniqueness you call Particips that you linearly line up and number since 1997…
I started to use the term “Particip” for two reasons. I wanted to, in the most precise, or at least the most fitting way, define the “cloud” within which I am moving and from which emerge something under my hands or in my head, and also the feature or power determinant for this setting. It was an intuitive attempt to connect up with and join on something, it was some kind of roughly defined interest in edges and framing and in how to be involved in the given situation, how to enjoy it. For example Pariticp No. 1 is a product of boredom in the room I was to use for one month as a studio. I fantasized I could just watch TV in that room, so I cut out the stencil of television set and sprayed it onto the wall… and then I just watched it, sometimes for a while, sometimes I just glimpsed at it. The wit as a stimulus for the birth of an idea has initiatory quality, I don’t underestimate it, but I don’t invocate it either. Though I know it does work. By the term “Particip” I was also trying to handle the bizarre situation when something came into being and after that you work on how to name it. Sort of “useless” continuation of process that has already been work off. Its title or name is already present in the work from the very beginning – let it be interjection, name or compound sentence. For me the problem is once for all solved by the term “Particip”. I just add the serial number and brief description.
This year at PAF, we are focusing on the phenomena of illustration and its animation. We have emerged from some sort of archetypal representation of the cultural (national) context found in some paintings. In Particip No. 22 you “borrowed Lada”, what was your main impulse for this?
The impulse for me was the moment when I saw in one of Lada’s paintings an entirely different meaning to that which it originally communicated. During a conducted tour of the Josef Lada Memorial in Hrusice, it seemed to me that the horse in one of his paintings was not holding the handle of the hay-barrow, but something else. What happened exhilarated me; the fact that you can perceive things differently from the way in which they are presented and shown to you! Because I was looking wrongly, I was able to see the object in a “perverse” way; structurally as well as in terms of its meaning. Later, I went through hundreds of Lada’s paintings trying to once again provoke that situation. I was sketching some things into them, taking other things away, finishing or foretelling the paintings. Particip No. 22, the interpretation of Lada’s paintings with stencils, is a set of fifteen carefully chosen and enlarged paintings by Josef Lada sprayed on the gallery-walls. Six of them are manipulated in such a way that you can see the original meaning as well as the shifted meaning. I was trying to create a situation in which it would be possible to manipulate the perspective of the viewer, alter the options of this point of view and cause a different perception of what seems to be finished and simplified. In a way I also wanted to play with the phenomena of exemplificative perception of “something“ that is understood as part of the national heritage.
You are often working with stencils, tracing of motifs – what is from your point of view the fascinating or determining phenomenon of copying (tracing)?
It would be the moment when you separate the matrix from the print, the stencil from the wall or the tracing paper from the picture. This moment is so small, so short but there is so much things happening at the same time – cumulation, moment of communication, expectation, excitement, first look and breath. The print to me means the intensity as well as the volatility. The tracing is something like lassoing, but with the power to loose the loop and set the thing free.
The skulls you have chosen as the illustrations in anthology of illustration are a reference to the work of certain artist – could you please introduce the background to this work?
I saw Black Kites by Gabriel Orozco for the first time in a magazine or some catalogue at the beg. of nineties. I was really impressed by its ornamentality and existentional overtone. The notion, that I am painting the checkboard pattern on the human skull (white and black squares, which become deformed by the curves of vertex, temples or cheekbones) was for me symbolization of how to treat an idea in relation to a thing. Maybe even of imprinting the inner sense onto the surface. By the way, Orozco was playing with the imprint phenomenon quite often in his works. Look at his My Hands Are My Heart from 1991 or Yielding Stone from 1992, for example. Simply speaking, Black Kites remained stuck in my memory and when I saw the original in the London Serpentine Gallery, it surprised me that they look more profane and more ordinary than I expected. When I came back to my London studio, I had the urge to create something, something not to loose that certain feeling… So I traced out Black Kites, cut out the stencil and sprayed them in a mirror fashion (the left and the right version, on the wall near the studio floor). I just needed to hold captive both my experiences, the first and the last, by some kind of gesture; to make a third thing so the Black Kites would remain with me in their entirety.
20.11.2010 – Interview between Martin Mazanec and Tomášem Vaňkem