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In the Studio with Lucia Horvátová

Lucia Horvátová depicts through her practice the study of human psyche, exploring relationships between interior and exterior environments. We met with Lucia to tell us more about her upbringing and journey to where she is today.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?

I strongly associate painting with my earliest childhood memories. My sister was born when I was three years old and I got my first set of watercolor paints from my parents to keep me entertained. I spent my entire childhood painting almost every day, much like I do now. Whether or not you consider someone as an artist is subjective. I do have the privilege of being an artist, though for me it is irrelevant because my time spent in the studio and with my artworks means the same to me now as it did before I became a professional.

 

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. Have you gone through the traditional route of art school and what was your experience? 

At high school I studied Fashion Design, but even before University, I definitely decided that I wanted to paint because that gave me much more freedom.

The most important aspect of my education was my Master’s degree which I took in Bratislava in a 4-studio under the leadership of Ivan Csudai. Ivan Csudai is a very well known painter in Slovakia and his class is predominantly known for abstract paintings, which is very close to what I work on. It’s also notable because this class is considered quite strict, which I intentionally wanted to confront. Being in this studio means to work hard and to have a lot of discussions about your work. It is visible that each student and graduate is progressively moving forward with well-mastered techniques because of this.

On my artistic journey I was also influenced by my relationship. My fiancé – Marek Jarotta – is also a painter. We have lived together for over 5 years now. Both of us have the same views on art, we often talk about our work, advise each other, help each other and trust one another. At the same time, each of us goes their own way and has their own studio. So it happens that we are usually chosen by different galleries for entirely different exhibitions and so on. We are not in the shadow of one another, but we love the work of one another.

 

What’s the message of your work? Are there themes/narratives/purpose?

In painting I try to reflect my feelings. It is not a representation of the outside world, but a metaphor of personal psychological insights. I depict mostly abstract space that can be felt in colors, layers and surfaces. I usually  depict a lot of ‘flying’ elements – amorphous, organic and inorganic, natural living and inanimate fragments; for example, stylized minerals, crystals, as a symbol of something rare that arises under difficult conditions.

Currently I have a series of paintings with micro-worlds called ‘Invisible insights’. Such paintings include bacteria, viruses, neurons, blood cells and so on, though it is also not my intention to literally ‘illustrate’.

However, in this case, the topic is no more important to me than the painting medium. I work with my themes for a long time until I exhaust its visual possibilities.

Where do they come from?

When I’m painting, I naturally get inspired for my next pieces and then I deliberate and think about them. 

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I work with an overflow of ‘chaotic’ compositions that pull the viewer in. I like to work with contrasts – not only contrast of colors, but also contrasts of several painting styles side by side in one picture eg. geometry and expressiveness. I paint in more layers in principle, similar to collage, to create a sense of space.

Who and what are your greatest influences? 

Some of my favourite painters include – Franz Ackermann, Fiona Rae, Felipe Pantone, Katarina Gross, Czech painter Jiri Georg Dokoupil with his bubble paintings… Also I fell in love with Vassily Kandinsky’s book: ‘On Spirituality in Art’. It describes the perception of colors and shapes.

Jiri Georg Dokoupil, Bubbles, 2008
Kandinsky, The Spiritual Element in Art and the Three Responsibilities of Artists

Are your works planned?

For some time, I experimented with approaching my work in a planned or spontaneous way. I find it important to balance both with the right proportions. It suits me best to prepare in advance, just a basic sketch in which the composition of the image is laid out. It is not necessary to have every detail planned, but rather important to know what I am doing. It is best to do the image intuitively as I currently see it; and not as it is planned. I also continually think about it whilst I create, rather than just copy the sketch.

What do you want people to take from your work when they view it? Do you have the audience consciously in mind when you are creating?

I don’t just create for myself. Not forgetting the audience is important, even though I still paint and work as I please.

I try to prevent the viewers from passing my work without taking a longer look. I encourage them purposely ‘get lost’ in a complicated composition, in which they can search for various details and find their own interpretations.

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise/aesthetic? How has your art evolved? Do you stick to one medium? Do you experiment? Do you see any parameters to your work?

I cannot deplete my inspiration in the painting medium. It feels limitless, therefore I still see immense and untapped opportunities within it.

 What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

For work I need quality materials and products – paints and brands that I know very well – to always have a sufficient amount at hand, also nicely stretched quality canvases. I need a neutral and tidy space. To avoid disturbing influences I don’t even have internet or books in the studio and I work in a different space to my home. This is so I can fully focus on my work alone. It is also good to have enough time. Sometimes I need some distance from my work to know what to do next and most importantly, I need a coffee.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve been given?

Use round shapes in paintings.

What are you hoping to achieve in the future? (projects, collaborations, taking a break).

Find good gallerists abroad and establish a long-term relationship with them, resulting in taking my work to art fairs for a wider audience to see.

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