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AS IS | David Moješčík


From Frýdek Místek, Moravian-Silesian region, Czechia

Based in Janovice, Moravian-Silesian region, Czcehia

David Moješčík mostly works with figurative sculpture. One of his great inspirations is yoga and he often hides symbols in his works. He likes to observe the interaction between the audience/public and his works and the various interpretations and opinions, whether positive or negative - after all, he believes that one of the main objectives of art is to elicit emotions, no matter what kind.

Levitation III, 2009, polyester, fiberglass, steel, acrylic and oil paint, height 2 metres. Photo by Kristýna Štuková (2010).

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

D: I was born and raised in Frýdek-Místek. I was led to pursue art my whole life by my surroundings. I just could feel that art is a natural part of who I am. I don't come from a family of artists, only my father liked to paint and he admitted to me that as a little boy, he thought about studying art, though he decided to study metallurgical engineering in the end for practical reasons. Despite that, I was encouraged to pursue art since I was little, somewhat subliminally rather than consciously. My parents let me and my sister do whatever we wanted and found fulfilling, which for me was painting and drawing. I was signed up for an art course. Our teacher was wonderful - she guided us in technical matters but gave us a lot of creative freedom. We had a great collective, we'd go to exhibitions, and she'd even teach us art history. I liked going there very much. So much that I chose to take an extra class each week to avoid going to the Vladimir Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization. (laughs)

I didn't only grow up painting, though, I was constantly growing creatively. When my father and brother started building an addition to our house, I'd sometimes go with them (to "help"). There was a lot of clay there and I liked forming nonsense out of it and then drying it in the sun. With my older and manually very talented cousin, we made a dam in our grandma's village. A couple of weeks later my brother wrote to me: "the dam is still working, the police came and are asking around to find out who flooded the field." (laughs) We did so many experiments like this! We even tried Jan Tleskač'sflying bicycle but we didn't end up realizing that one - thank god, otherwise we'd probably have killed ourselves! (laughs)

After primary school, I studied stonemasonry in Žulová and followed up with graphic industrial design in Ostrava, but because I didn't find that fulfilling, I decided to switch to sculpture. I studied in Hořice, the town of stonemasons and sculptors. I spent 3 lovely years there and the whole time I knew I was meant to become a sculptor. The defining moment for that came ages before that, in Žulová, when I visited the local library and found a book with Michelangelo's sketches. It was the first time I was able to study them in greater detail and they impressed me so much that I decided: this is the kind of art I want to make.

Eventually, I studied sculpture at the Brno University of Technology for two years under professor Vladimír Preclík's guidance. Then I transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and studied under professor Jan Hendrych. There I had another defining moment - Mr. Hendrych invited a group of students of sculpture from Brno, led by Michal Gabriel who had replaced Mr. Preclík. I asked him for a consultation which ended up becoming very formative for me and perhaps was my first consultation of higher quality. He asked me such questions as to why I do what I do, and what I want to do; he wanted me to ask myself what I'm hoping to achieve with such work and how to achieve it. He was able to see things from my perspective and understand my way of thinking. He'd found out I am interested in yoga and he asked me why I don't create yoga sculptures. At that moment the lightbulb went off and I realized I wanted to learn from this person. After my studies, I still worked with him and to this day I still do sometimes. I also met Michal Šmeral there, a great sculptor I began entering competitions which served as a catalyst for us. Not only did they make us money, but they also motivated us to keep developing our way of thinking about sculpture and the public space.

A: What inspires you the most?

D: Life itself. I am greatly inspired by yoga, otherwise by whatever I am experiencing and my mindset at the moment. When my father died, I took it very hard because I truly believed he'd win the fight. He fought till his last breath. When he passed away, I was so down I had no idea what to do. The only thing I had left were fairy tales - they always guided me through life, not just in childhood. I had returned to my childhood house to spend more time with my mom after my father's death and I found some books my younger sister had inherited from me. And so I began reading and watching fairytales again - traditional or animated, old and new. Through them, I found a new theme for my work: fairies. And when I got a little tired of fairies, I returned to yoga and started combining the two themes...

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

D: Everyone has their own rituals. Recently I spoke to my friend and former classmate, Aleš Bernard, a great sculptor. He reminded me of how we used to sketch figures together with some other classmates when we all studied together in Hořice. We did it every single day. One of us was the model and the others sketched him. That taught us to draw well, the importance of patience and discipline, and to observe the world around us with all its details. After an hour or two the model would get bored, so we went to the pub, had a beer or two, then came back to the studio and drew again. Alešalso remarked I always used to hound them because I wanted to meditate before going to bed. And it's true, to this day I try to meditate every night. It's not just about working with the mantra - for me, it always begins as a recap of the whole day. I suddenly remember everything I forgot to do, and I keep returning to them until they're all finished. I used to do yoga every morning, I even used to train others. I am not accredited though, so I just exercised and everyone else repeated after me. (laughs)

During mechanical work, when I don't need to think anymore as the creative part is done, I like to listen to classical music or audiobooks. I like Nordic crime or Stephen King, who - and this might be a little controversial - I believe to be one of the greatest artists the US has ever had.

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

D: To draw. Everything you see, and if you don't know where to begin, draw yourself. And when you've had enough, try to find someone who can give you some feedback and show you some direction. Drawing is the spine of all art. They say that Ghirlandaio had a big sign in his workshop that said "Don't let a day pass when you don't draw something." Drawing will teach you to perceive reality as it is, and then you can create a completely new one on the canvas. That's the most wonderful thing about art.

Also, go to nature and observe it, visit galleries, and pay attention to sculptures in the public space, ...

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

D: I have this motto: don't harm and don't kill. It's the elemental philosophy of yoga and the words set a boundary for me I shouldn't cross - not just in life, but in art as well.

When observing a work of art, I usually ask myself these three basic questions: What? How? Why? Firstly because I was taught to do so, but even kids like to ask all their why's. To understand the "why," I need to study and understand the artwork.

A: Your favorite Czech artists?

D: Everything and everyone you encounter influences you in some way, but as I said before, the greatest influence on me was Michelangelo. My first big Czech influence was František Drtikol and his photography. He did yoga just like my father who introduced me to it. The people my father knew were often from František Drtikol's circle. He had this beautiful thought: it doesn't matter if you make art from gold, diamond, or shit - what matters is what you can do with the material. That's art. It sounds especially true from someone like him and I believe that you always need to keep working on yourself, doubting yourself, and looking for new ways to realize your ideas.

I've always been impressed by photography. I have many friends-photographs, and many artists I keep in my memory are photographers. My sister Kristýna also studied photography and it is thanks to her I have met the great photographer Dita Pepe and her university professor Jindřich Štreit. Tomáš Medek, a sculptor who assisted Michal Gabriel at my former university in Brno, once pointed out that some of my works bear a lot of resemblance to Ivan Pinkava's works. Ivan Pinkava was later the opponent of my thesis. I worked under Michal Gabriel for many years and it influenced me greatly. I also enjoy some of Stefan Milkov's and Jaroslav Róna's works.

During my studies, I was influenced by so-called "Hořice art nouveau rodénism," which probably influenced everyone who ever studied there. The school was founded during the art nouveau period and during Quido Kocián's life. His works influenced and formed me, whether in a good way or a bad way. I was surrounded by them so much I started to dislike them, but as they say - the forbidden fruit tastes the best. I ended up becoming interested in 19th-century art, not just fine arts but music and literature as well. Those art movements were a kind of French-Italian historicism brought to the Czech environment. I was absolutely fascinated by it and found it very inspiring. Hořice is also quite close toBetlém and Kuks, a one-of-a-kind work of Czech Baroque by Matyáš Bernard Braun. Those influences are rooted deep in me, even though my work is very different from that. However, there was a time in my life when I enjoyed the Baroquedynamism and expressivity.

A: What piece of art do you think embodies the Czech national spirit and culture?Why?

D: Definitely J. V. Myslbek's St. Wenceslas. The tradition of St. Wenceslas is still very much alive in Czechia. It survived everything that's happened here since the Přemyslid dynasty and so much has happened around that sculpture: demonstrations, strikes, historical events, ... And also sculptures of John of Nepomuk. Every village has one and their Christian legacy has withstood all times of change since the 17th century.

There is one problem here, though: art is no longer an illustration. If such work were to be made today, it would have to be something completely new, and it would be a forever unhappy work, just like our nation is. (smiles)

A: How do you like to connect with others through art?

D: I think that every work of art should communicate on its own. Art itself is meant to elicit emotions, and as the result of the author's intellect and creative process, it speaks through the emotions they put into it. It's a sort of a transferred or materialized energy of the artist, and the artwork does its job when it can pass this energy on to the audience. Whether the emotions are good or bad. It just mustn't harm anyone, then art becomes demagogy and nonsense.

The problem is when a work of art doesn't make you feel anything at all. If you walk by without even noticing it. I am convinced that if the artist puts any piece of himself in his work - even his ego - it will make the audience feel something. I don't think it's okay when the artist mocks the audience, but there are works - such as Warhol's Sleep - whose sole purpose is to provoke.

It's similar to my sculpture of Věra Špinarová, a work I put irony and multiple shifted perspectives into. It may be clear to someone at first glance, others might figure it out with time, and some people might not want to understand at all. Works write their own stories and the audience can be a part of them. I was always interested in the ways artworks can interact with the audience and vice versa. When I exhibit my own works, I don't tell their story anymore - I passed that function on to the sculptures. After all, the sculpture is a representation of reality and truth, its essence materialized.

A: Where can we meet you?

D: Well, I guess at home. (smiles) I usually create in my studio which is located next to my house. I've even managed to learn to think about my work there. I had a studio in a former pigsty and I loved working there but I could never think there well. It comes easier to me in my new studio. Although... I don't even know where those ideas in my head come from. When I do get it, I often share it with my wife who is my first and fairly honest critic.

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

D: Again, don't harm and don't kill. It's not just about being a pacifist. It has to be true in your mind, too, and that can be harder - even just a thought can harm. I also often remember the old Franciscan saying, "pray and work." I've always been impressed by it so I decided to apply it to myself as well. It's not just the prayer, it's also a reminder of the importance of believing in yourself, thinking positively no matter what, and working hard.

Thank you!

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