From Pardubice, Czechia
Based in Prague, Czechia
We talked with marvelous Dana Bartoníčková about her art journey, sources of inspiration, favorite Czech artists, studio experiences, ways to talk about art and places, where we can meet her
A: Please, tell us a bit more about yourself. What brought you to art?
D: My journey with art began during high school and eventually carried on to higher education. Studying Intermedia at Milena Dopitova's studio at Ladislav Sutnar Faculty in Pilsen, marked an important milestone for me. The next step was my studies at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts, which I began at the same time as a Master's degree in Pilsen. For two years, I commuted between Pilsen and Prague and studied both schools at the same time. It was challenging, sometimes very difficult, but it enriched me greatly and helped point me in the right direction.
A: What inspires you the most?
D: When creating I have always drawn from my inner world, from feelings, situations, and topics relevant to me at the time. Not that I use art to deal with problems, though it has often helped me find answers to critical questions.
A: Do you have any specific rituals while working (creating)?
D: My greatest helper is my sketchbook which I take with me anywhere I go. I use it to sort my thoughts, note down ideas, sometimes even as a journal of sorts. I've always drawn when traveling, and I still have many notes of ideas from my commuting days which I hope to come back to one day.
A: What would you recommend to someone new to art (an artist or just an admirer), what to begin with?
D: To persevere, not give up, let go of other people's opinions, and do things that bring joy. Not compare oneself with fellow artists and try to find a path that will feel right. Patience and determination are key in art, like in many other fields. It may not seem like it, but many great artworks only came to be after years of searching and trying.
A: Your top 3 adjectives related to art?
D: Every art piece is unique and elicits different emotions. I try to approach them without prejudice and with maximum curiosity.
A: Your favorite Czech artists?
D: I have many. I enjoy their personality, approach to the creation, or their artistic expression itself, such as the way they approach the material they work with. Humor and pieces whose hyperbole and nonchalance stand out, impress me the most. I try to apply humor in my work as well, I want to create pieces that have more than one layer.
A: What piece of art do you think embodies the Czech national spirit and culture? Why?
D: Rather than specific pieces, what comes to mind are the affairs sometimes associated with them. I enjoy watching them resonate through society, people's reactions. Art is not a topic commonly talked about in society since people's interest in art has sadly gone down over the years. Only sensation opens the discussion; something to wake people up from their lethargy. And suddenly everyone is an expert, although no one really knows anything.
A: The perfect phrase to start any conversation about art is: ..?
D: Conversations about art are best had over an artwork, at an opening, or an exhibition. It's always best to go straight to the source: the artist or the curator. Everyone should create their own opinion on art by letting themselves feel it.
A: Where can we meet you?
D: I create in my studio which I share with my partner, sculptor Martin Žák near Prague. Half a year ago we bought an old pub close to Český Brod which we have been reconstructing. The dance hall has been turned into a studio. It's a generous space that impresses everyone who comes to visit.
A: Please, share your favorite quote (not necessarily related to art):
D: Rather than a motto I find guidance in numbers. Whenever I find myself at a crossroads, whenever I have doubts or feel self-conscious, I start to notice the time whenever the numbers repeat, e.g., 12:12, 15:15, 18:18, and so on. It's a sign that I am on the right path and everything is as it should be.