“A story to create…”
Paul Zimmerman in conversation with Stanislav Říha
Paul Zimmerman: How did you get interested in art?
Stanislav Říha: My interest in art goes back to my preschool time. I always like to draw and construct 3D art pieces. I was probably influenced by the fact that I grew up in the Small Quarter of Prague, where art was everywhere and surrounded my life. As well many of my friends and schoolmates were artists.
PZ: You have a wide range of works, from paintings to photography, from abstraction to still lives.
How would you define your artistic style?
SŘ: I grew up loving pure surrealism, especially Dali’s work. It stayed with me for twenty years. Then, in the nineties, I started playing with abstract 3D composition and combining surreal, conceptual and emotional aspects of life. The art curator in Lisbon called it Surreal abstract, and it stayed.
The wide range of my work comes from the need to work on something every day; despite my full-time job, I spend some four hours on the artwork, many ideas go through my head, and I have to try them. Usually, I work on three pieces simultaneously.
PZ: What is your artistic process? How do you create your paintings?
SŘ: I like to think throughout in my head every move I make, especially with acrylics which are hard to correct. I do not like corrections.
Because 3D compositions are impossible to create and view appropriately on the easel, I want to take snapshots throughout the creation of the work and view it on the computer screen to stay with good composition. So I’d say I spend twice as much time on mind painting than the actual authentic artwork.
PZ: Do you have any particular goal in mind when your start a new piece?
SŘ: I do four times out of five, but there are situations when I just like to take a material and play with the composition until it tells me a story to create. So many times, I go through my photography portfolio for inspiration.
PZ: How do you know when the painting is finished?
SŘ: Usually, it brings a smile of satisfaction, and nothing is out of balance. But, even then, I look and scrutinize the work for a couple of days before I decide it is done. To be comfortable with the outcome after the last brush stroke is very rear.
PZ: Has your practice changed over time?
SŘ: The main change to my style in 2010 brought up my addictions studies, which I widened with studies of emotions and adaptions. That brought the emotional aspect to my artwork, and surreal abstract was born, I would say. Then there is oxo-print, the technique I have created and developed in the last decade, where I am using modern materials.
PZ: Which artists are you most influenced by?
SŘ: There are many, but the ones who created me were Dali and Picasso. To stay with my personal expression, I tried not to get tied with any other artist emotionally for the last two decades.
PZ: What message would you like to send to the world?
SŘ: Since I am always involving the emotional aspect of life, I would like the viewer to realize the importance of the emotional side of life. I believe this is a lot more critical for natural life than the practical side.
PZ: What are you working on now?
SŘ: I have just finished an acrylic painting, “Tree and a street.” Where I am trying to express the fact that people being interested in-store merchandise than in the tree, even though the tree is a lot more critical to urban design the the stores.
Another is oxo-print, “Coming out of a shell.” Where I am expressing the emotional aspect of an introvert facing social interactions.
PZ: How did the pandemic influence your work and sensibility?
SŘ: Since I lived through the Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968, I did not sink into the situation. The vital part of the pandemic for me was the emotional openness of many people. I realized that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. So I thought the best way to help those around me and my social circles is to post art every day. Which I did for over a year.