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AS IS | Eliška Čabalová

Artist, bookbinder

From Valašské Meziříčí, Zlín region, Czechia

Based in Ostrava, Moravskoslezský region ,Czechia

Eliška Čabalová is an artist, graphic designer, and icon in the bookbinder field. She knows many techniques long forgotten, and she is connected to the material she works with more than most. Her bookbinding is just as much an artistic experience as what is hidden in them.

A: Please, tell us a bit more about yourself. How did you get into art?

E: Quite naturally. My father was an architect, but he wasn't allowed to do architectural work following the events of the 50s, so at least he painted (very well). I've always enjoyed activities that require the use of both the mind and hands. That is why I chose to study art in Brno, instead of chemistry and maths, even though I enjoyed and was good at both.

I've been living in Ostrava since 1983. I founded the workshop of cover and book design at the Ostrava University. Nowadays I lead its accredited offshoots - the bachelor's degree workshop of book design and the master's degree workshop of book design and animation.

A: What inspires you the most?

E: Water and the landscape. In terms of bookbinding it's the literature of course. I couldn't do it without it.

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

E: Consistent work, even if it doesn't go as well as you'd hope. And coffee, at the right time.

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

E: Learn to look around, notice your surroundings, follow the art scene both at home and abroad, and keep working on yourself. Don't fall for clichés, don't follow trends, and don't be afraid to experiment. Put your thoughts on the paper. Sleep with a notebook and a pencil. Talent by itself is not enough.

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

E: „I am enjoying this."

A: Your favorite Czech artists?

E: Marie Blaboliová, Jiří Kolář, Petr Nikl, František Skála, Marius Kotrba, Jaroslav Koléšek, and many more. I don't have one favourite artist. I appreciate their playfulness, thought process, their determination to find something that can't be put into words. Three-dimensional art is closer to my heart.

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

E: The statue of St. Wenceslas riding a horse positioned upside down, located in Lucerna in Prague. David Černý often works with the symbolism of contemporary political events in Czechia.

A: The perfect phrase to start any conversation about art is:...?

E: I don't start conversations about art. The connection formed through art is art itself, it's what we create and what we stand for. It doesn't need to speak to anyone, but the process itself is communication. I don't know a single artist who creates art not meant to be seen.

A: Where can we meet you most often?

E: In my studio and in the woods.

A: Please, share your favorite quote (not necessarily related to art):

E: "Get up and walk." Gains a new level of meaning with age.

Thank you!

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