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AS IS | Bronislava Bakule Malá


From the borders of the Vysočina and South Bohemia regions, Czechia

Based in Prague, Czechia

Bronislava Bakule Malá studied sculpture, but she makes use of painting, drawing, and graphics in her work as well. She says she's always been bound to art in her essence; she calls her works her "personal diary of her relationship with nature."

Tubes 1, 2021, linocut.

A: Please, tell us a bit more about yourself. What brought you to art?

B: I am one of those lucky individuals who never had to tackle the dilemma of the meaning and path of their life, choice of school, searching for interests, picking their leisure activities, etc. As far as my memory goes, my life has been permeated by being in touch with the aesthetic so constantly and essentially I never even stopped to think about it. Its been clear to me and my close ones since my nursery days, so I wasn't "brought" to art, I have grown up in symbiosis with it. The sense of the visual, beauty, and manual dexterity have been given to me genetically and whenever my parents supported me, it was only natural for all of us.

A: What inspires you the most?

B: My own life. It's an overplayed mantra of mine but the authenticity of expression is a generally essential quality in art. Of course, there are more elements than that, especially the form is key. But to make the whole work, authenticity is a priority value. I have many sources of inspiration, I don't categorize or hierarchize them, I let things take their course naturally. What matters is the result and the original source of inspiration might even disappear entirely during the process of creation, but there is one thing all my works have in common. Whether I'm working on elementary principles or documenting the garden, it's all my personal diary of my relationship (primarily) with nature, whether it's natural motives or general physical phenomena.

A: Do you have any specific rituals while working (creating)?

B: I used to never admit any, but lately I've found the greatest surge of ideas happens when I put my children to sleep when I enter a state of calm and my mind explodes with ideas, images, and themes. Some of them I often forget or filter, but this ritual reminds me of the importance of those moments when my mind slows down and my brains can work intuitively. The calm is the source part, the process part is based on discipline. I always need to get in my pace and set a regular and a little militaristic regime if I want to do something and finish it. It brings me focus. It's no big impulsive romance, even though I do have moments of creative euphoria hitting my brain, but without drill, it simply won't work.

A: What would you recommend to someone new to art (an artist or just an admirer), what to begin with?

B: That depends on the drive and especially ambitions of each individual. If someone's serious about art, they usually don't "begin" with art, they live with it. And when it comes to children, I wouldn't recommend anything at all. It's wasteful to hold back their natural creativity with lessons of perspective, shading, or anatomy. To the older ones I'd only recommend taking it seriously, being thorough and authentic, following not just the things around but themselves as well, and most importantly, their own approach and using it to find the right person who'll help them find what exactly your thing is. That's where the overall happiness in life lies.

A: Your top 3 words or phrases related to art?

B: There are probably more than three - I habitually ponder the form and content, if the concept is approachable and not overcomplicated and overwhelming, the context, ways the material is processed, etc., there are many components. But often all I need is a vocabulary consisting of banal words such as great, good, bad, horrible, awful, etc., which I'm happy to elaborate on if people are interested.

A: Your favorite Czech artists?

B: I am not one for role models and idols. I am mostly interested in individual works and those I could spend forever naming. Each artist fascinates me with something different, sometimes it's their approach, sometimes creativity, it can be technical precision, their discipline, insight, courage, etc., no matter their technique. Every time I name people I feel bad I forgot someone.

A: Is there a piece of art that embodies the Czech national spirit and culture? Why?

B: In a pejorative way, yes, for example, Ruda Pivrnec by Petr Urban, though that's a sarcastic hyperbole of course. This is a bit of an issue in art. A nation's mentality can be captured quite well in literature (as an example it's worth mentioning František Gellner's complete work), theatre, and film, but a single work of fine art is always too flat, even though it can still contain a display of several ideas. Nothing hits me as a complex demonstration of the Czech mentality.

A: The perfect phrase to start conversation about art?

B: When I converse about art, it's always with people who are interested in it, and in that case, I only need one sentence: "Have you seen this and that?" Or announcing "I have seen this and that?" There's nothing privy about this but the other participant of the dialogue has to be. I am surrounded by a motley group of people but with some of them, the conversation would end before I could even finish my sentence. With those in the know, the conversation is the most natural and casual thing in the world.

A: How to connect with others through art?

B: By being honest, doing things well and thoroughly. It's generally effective when you manage to find a form of expression that is accessible to others. In that case, it doesn't matter if the content is personal or a common experience. If the values align, the work is easy.

It also depends on your expectations. Political and social art is different from introverted graphics or music, some things are by definition more invasive and harder to miss, and others are more difficult to communicate. Additionally, the barrier between the artwork and the audience, caused by the overall focus of education where culture is presented as unessential despite being the foundation of society, needs to be overcome.

A: Where can we meet you?

B: At home. I am not the plein air type, although spending time in nature is an important driving force for me; I need the actual process of creating art to happen in the peace and comfort of my home. Plus the barrier between my studio and the source helps me focus better.

A: Is there any quote or idea that has guided you in your work and/or life?

B: I am not aware I have one.

Thank you!

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