By Katerina Kyselica | Even seemingly banal experiences may induce new discoveries, be it an altered perception of self or a pivotal realization about one’s surroundings. Artists often harbor a special sensitivity to the experiences that they absorb, analyze and envisage as a representation through chosen tools. They convey messages that carefully embed their experiential inspiration. This intimate process could materialize through a methodical construction; a gestural, emotional expression; or even an automatic transcription of dreams.
Marie Blabolilova, Spring Storm, 1977, etching, 12 1/2 x 16 3/8 inches image size (31.8 x 41.5 cm), 19 7/8 x 26 inches paper size (50.4 x 66 cm), edition of 30, photograph by Zdenek Sodoma, collection of the Museum of Modern Art Olomouc.
Nevertheless, sooner or later, the time comes when artists’ messages set sail on their own journey and enter into the infinite conduits of interpretation. The odyssey is reminiscent of the telephone game; an initial notion alters according to myriad perceptions and accepted understandings by the time it reaches its destination, the final recipient. In the case of the artist’s original message, its meaning transmits through reviews by curators, evaluations by critics and examinations by historians.
I personally enjoy rediscovering an artwork with an enriched outlook after reading a writer’s fresh perspective on the piece. Some of us observers may also want to enhance our reception of a picture by learning about its design process “because only then do we also see the scene as such,” as curator Barbora Kundracikova previously suggested.
I am therefore pleased to introduce the third issue of Celebrating Print and the articles by our contributors who once again attempt to decipher artists’ messages by considering historical contexts alongside the creators’ experiences. Kundracikova continues to explore the aesthetic nature of prints in Sensing Beyond Seeing—a theoretical study of works by Alena Kucerova, Marie Blabolilova and Romana Rotterova, three Czech female printmakers who succeeded in overcoming the daunting challenge of constructing general meaning through visual media. As the author adds, “Achieving a mutual state of understanding with the viewer in a comprehensible, repeatable fashion is no easy feat.”
For the first time, we look into the realm of fantasy art, a phenomenon typically associated with Central and Eastern European print. Art historian Eva Trojanova’s Carousels of Life focuses on the expansive oeuvre of Slovak artist Vladimir Gazovic and his “efforts to reveal the truth” by skillfully combining astute observations of reality with phantasmal motifs. Fluctuations between dreams and reality find a fixed state in the works of Kamila Stanclova, another Slovak artist whom I interviewed in Bratislava. Her line-based etchings are interlaced with sublime shapes generated by her imagination and subconscious. As such, I invite you to read the transcribed accounts of Stanclova’s dreams in order to grasp the poetic side of her work. Both artists’ experiences inspire creations reflecting their attitudes and perceptions. Croatian artist Ana Vivoda, whose project Traces we present as part of our commitment to shed light on the printmaking process, also reflects on her experiences—in relation to her surroundings. Vivoda’s continuous interventions with the matrix result in abstract, emotionally charged prints. Modern artists have ruminated on the relationships humans maintain with their surroundings, society or technology for decades. Art historian Julia Meszaros offers a survey of modern Hungarian printmaking, which encompasses early forms of narrative works as well as the radical trends of 1980s and 1990s, when artists defied the medium’s traditions by experimenting with Xerox technology and other available devices.
I hope you embrace the approach of looking through the image (rather than at the image) as a method for unlocking the secrets behind the artists’ works. Enjoy your reading.
I would like to express my appreciation to the authors, photographers and artists of this issue and my gratitude for their generosity in supporting the magazine’s mission.