Artist Frantisek Strouhal was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia. Frantisek's work explores the harmony between the spiritual and the physical world. The images I viewed offer a haunting sense of loss -- yet there is a peaceful quality under the surface. Frantisek's surrealistic approach can only be described as psychologically engaging. In other words, his work forces one to ponder about the deeper meaning of life. I recently caught up with Frantisek in order to learn more about his life and art.
Brian Sherwin: My understanding is that you describe yourself as a self-taught artist. Can you offer some details concerning your path of self-study?
Frantisek Strouhal: That is correct. I'm primarily self-taught. I learned the photographic and printing craft through the study of many renowned artists and photographers. I strive to explore the boundaries of the photographic medium. For example, I've developed a strong affinity with methods outside the prevailing conventions of photography. I suppose you could say that I've combined 19th-century style with 21st-century art and craft.
BS: Tell us about your artwork. What do you wish to achieve with your work?
FS: For me, depicting the human form is the most universal symbol of beauty that inspires and fulfills my mind and heart. Each work of art tells a story. I want my work to invite interactions -- each piece may impart distinctive messages at different times. I enjoy exploring thoughts and inspirations of an existential nature and investigating the interaction and harmony between the spiritual and the physical world.
BS: You embrace several directions in your studio during the process of art-making. What can you tell us about the various methods you embrace?
FS: To create my artwork I use photography, digital collage, contact printing and lithography inks on watercolor paper. This technique called Oil Printing stems from the Carbon process (1855) where the watercolor paper is soaked in a gelatin bath then dried. In the meantime a digital negative is made, contact printed under UV lights on the sensitized watercolor paper which then become the matrix for applying lithography inks, building up layers upon layers to create the desired image.
BS: Can you offer some further thoughts about your artistic process?
FS: My artistic ideas just come from the inside: moment in, moment out; feelings in, feelings out. My internal monologue shapes itself as a vision, an image which I sketch on a sheet of paper. To materialize this vision I need to capture the figure of live models with my 4x5 camera. These portraits are integrated with previously collected images of landscapes, architectural details, and objects in a collage effect, situating the person in an imaginary environment.
BS: I enjoy the way you play upon the past in an edgy, sophisticated way. It is simply a joy to observe...
FS: Yes. I'm extremely interested in the past. The old masters and the Quattrocento are my strongest influences. You can easily observe their impact on my artwork. I must say that I am very disappointed about the general direction where art is pointing towards nowadays. I think artists would benefit if they would stop long enough to truly acknowledge strong works of art from the past -- in order to see how those powerful directions can be applied today.
BS: You are not the first artist I've interviewed to suggest that... I take it you are deeply concerned with the current state of the art world?
FS: A lot of the art of today appears to have lost its soul. Some of the most praised work of today is little more than a conceptual aberration. In my opinion, this is the end result of intense academic programming. It is a shame.
BS: I understand your point. It has long been argued that art schools are churning out 'more of the same'. Additionally, it has been suggested that many art school graduates have failed to learn the basics. Another unfortunate side to this -- aside from students embracing massive debt with little skill to show for it -- is that it harms public perception of what it means to be an artist. With my previous statement in mind, what can artists do to help increase public interest in art? What can we do to improve the image of 'The Artist'?
FS: I'll put it this way: Every artist should have a personal commitment to live with infinite care by putting intelligence, love, and art at the service of the world outside. We should strive to uplift the spirit, to express care and to show gratitude and appreciation for all. By doing this we can make a huge difference in the lives of ordinary people... while improving the public image of 'The Artist'.
BS: How do you achieve this goal with your own work?
FS: I attempt to bring more beauty to our world through my imagery. My intention is to create an Oasis of tranquility, joy, permanence, and strength and also to be able to capture and highlight what is essential to our being and society.
BS: In closing, is there anything else you would like to say about your artwork?
FS: The best compliment I received as an artist was to see one of my figurative pieces tattooed on a young lady’s arm. She had been looking for years for the perfect tattoo image and had finally found it in one of my works.
I hope that whoever sees my work enjoy a unique and pleasurable experience. I hope you've enjoyed my brief interview with artist Frantisek Strouhal. You can learn more about Frantisek and his art by visitingwww.frantisekstrouhal.com.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin - Editor of The Art Edge