5 questions for Jana Horálková

Jana Horálková is our artist in residence for the autumn of 2019 and even though she just left Bucharest, we had the chance to ask her 5 questions. Jana graduaded from the University of West Bohemia, Institute of Art and Design, and then continued her studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where she studied sculpture. 

Interview by Robin Ujfaluši


     1. What inspires you in your artwork? 

I am inspired by the space, the specifics of different spaces and their atmosphere, by nature itself and its geometry, with its system of growing that creates a space. The main common topic is personal space, its possibilities and limitations, the need for shaping, creating, re-creating space for any living being.

If you look at my art work, you can see that most of the forms evolve from nature’s forms which I translate at human scale. If I say I use nature shapes as a basis, I do not mean that I directly copy shapes I see. I am rather interested into systems and rules which nature uses while creating its forms, reasons of its creation, geometry which growing structures and forms follow. That is why I am not restricted by materials or scale. Both depend on the question regarding the purpose of the object and what it speaks about. I do not use natural materials, on the contrary, I use man made products to make a link between civilization and nature. The scale of objects is related to the human body. It constructs a direct relation between the object and the man, which is another important part of my work.

     2. What is crucial for you in art, be it topics or forms you deal with?

I like when those that come look at my art can take an active part in the artwork, and don’t just come and take a look. This is difficult. It isn’t possible to know in advance exactly how people will react. Everyone has a different attitude towards art. This is why some people enjoy touching and interacting with an art object when they get the chance. Other people always prefer keeping the distance from the artwork. In order to break this unpleasant distance between art and visitor, not only art as an object is important, but great part of this aspect is played by the installation and presentation of the work. More I want to involve visitors, more it has to be easier to for them to understand the function of the object. People sometimes call my art something in between sculpture and performance. I do not think that it has much to do with the performance art. What I could be call a performance in my work is rather the action of stepping in when I prefer to involve the visitors but I find it too complicated, so I decide to present it myself (http://www.horalkova-art.com/works/pet/). So for me, the crucial thing is the way the art work can interact with the person and if we speak of an exhibition, the general atmosphere is more important for me than the individual objects.

     3. What are you currently working on? Are there any projects you are currently passionate about?

I am passionate about portable spaces. I love the architecture of shapes such as platonic solids and other polyhedrons, its use for nature’s constructions and for human architecture too. I got very much inspired by Drop City architecture (1965 till early 70’s), by its look, by the idea of the community too, even though it is probably not very clear how to set up a definition of that commune. The structures they used were not newly invented, but the act of using them in that way and dropping new homes into the desert of Colorado is inspiring. Consequently, quite a few manuals on how to build up a dome home were made and later published, so in the case someone wants to build his own dome structure, it is quite easy now to search for detailed instructions and choose from a great number of possibilities. Apparently, many people do it, they construct garden shelters, glass houses, shelters or tents for festivals and there are many large scale architectural projects building homes or domes following the geometry of mentioned structures. Tent structures and lightweight structures are closely related to this topic and in fact, the investigation of those structures went along with a popularization of portable dome structures.

So after all, it is all about building more or less personal, but definitely private spaces, which can be easily constructed and moved. The idea is up to date if we think of the society based on quick and easy shifting from place to place. The movement of people is surprisingly easy, however it can be still surprisingly difficult to make up s new own space that we feel familiar with. I do not tend to go for pure practicality of my shelters. The idea is to circumscribe my own space which I can drop basically anywhere I want. The intention is to use it in the city environment as a contrast to anonymous architecture and rather impersonal surrounding. The small (one person) scale and a very temporary period of the installation appearance of such a space allows me to let behind most of the practical issues and get more focused on the visual language of such a shelter, communicating with its surrounding by its external side and with me or as the case may be with the other person by the interior.

     4. How do you like Bucharest so far? Did you have any particular expectations before coming here? Is there anything what surprised you?

I enjoy the atmosphere of Bucharest, its authentic mess when it comes to architecture and to the organization of the city as well, while still working quite well somehow. The locals complain about the public transport and the truth is that the city is full of cars and buses stacked in traffic jams. The rules for drivers have probably rather a character of recommendation and biking in the city has apparently no rules, which seems to be applied to the pedestrians’ way of walking too. But once I got used to this less systematic system of moving around, I stopped crashing with other people. In general, people are more communicative with each other and starting a conversation on the street or in a train is not something strange and always very natural here, never annoying. This is something I appreciate a lot. Because it is my first time in Romania, I avoided making expectations and I was rather looking forward to discover as much as possible on the spot.

     5. Do you have any observations about the Bucharest art scene? Any places which you have discovered and which should not be missed, in your opinion?

I just visited two local museums. The first one is very new, the Museum of Recent Art. It is for sure a good spot to check out for everyone who is interested in the Romanian contemporary (or recent) art scene. The exhibitions – contemporary as well as the permanent part – display mostly paintings, few sculptures and some video art. To describe the entire atmosphere I would say it is rather conservative, but still possible to see some inspiring art pieces (I loved the aesthetic attitude of Stefan Bertalan for example). To establish such a building has to be definitely a good step to support and promote the local art scene.

Then I went to the National Museum of Contemporary Art. The way of installing the artworks was the most unexpected aspect. I did not find any apparent logic in the system of hanging the paintings, either theoretical or visual. The logic of displaying sculptures, on the other hand, looked clear. They arrange the artwork in such a way that the visitors have space to walk around. In the best case, the sculptures are placed next to the wall, however, many of them were hidden niches. Some rooms were reserved for sculptures only, but still with the same ‘’do not disturb’’ system and a very apparent lack of sensitivity towards the space as a whole. So I would say that if we think of the local art scene as a group of individual artist, the level would be higher than understand as local art scene individual artists, it will be higher level of quality than if we visit institutions. I also went to Diploma, exhibition of Romanian graduates and I enjoyed it.

You can follow Jana’s work here: http://www.horalkova-art.com/