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AS IS | Patrik Hábl


From Zlín, Zlínský region, Czechia

Based in Prague, Czechia

Patrik is one of the leading figures on the Czech art scene. Despite being a painter, he keeps in mind the audience and the space around his pieces in his creative process, allowing his work to spill beyond the canvas and into its environment. Peek inside the mind of a painter who, in more than two decades of work, managed to create his own, unique philosophy, and get inspired.

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

P: I found my way to art thanks to my older brother René who studied at an art school. Even though we weren't close in age or education interests, he still became my main source of inspiration.

I took extracurricular art classes, then the Secondary School of Applied Art in Uherské Hradiště, the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (UMPRUM), the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, and finally Saint Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Fine Arts and Design.

To quote UMPRUM's chancellor Josef Hlaváček: "For art cannot likely be learned. It is possible to spread all kinds of nets around the hopeful adepts: Introduce them to skills they had yet to discover, immerse them in depths of history to teach them that all that could be painted has already been painted, and yet there always is an opening for something new,present them with everything going on in the world but let them doubt that as well and help them find their own stance, lead them through the maze of contemporary philosophy (and not only philosophy of art) to help them understand their own standing, where they were placed to be, where they are encouraged to go... But the rest is up to them. All the school can offer to them is the net: they need to become trapped in it by themselves."

A: What is your greatest source of inspiration?

P: My greatest source of inspiration is the landscape itself; to walk through it and weather its challenges, as well as the physical process of painting which is the greatest adventure of all. On the other hand, I am inspired by the man (the object), what appears in his mind or face. It's a reference to phenomenology, what Merleau-Ponty mentions in The Eye and Mind.

In all my installations I always focus on one theme - "the painting and the space". Whether the space is sacral, gallery, or public, I am interested in the painting's surface, scope, scale, and the audience's perception.

I have a long-term interest in the experience of the audience in their mind and eye as they stand in front of a painting. Whether a piece of art can elicit emotions and whether it can transform not only the audience and the space but the canvas itself. The audience is reconstructed by the artwork in space, the space is reconstructed by the artwork and the canvas by the paint on it.

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

P: My most crucial habit is constant, everyday work in my studio, spending as much time painting as possible. That something I've been maintaining for decades.

A: What would you recommend to someone who's new to art (whether as an artist or just an admirer); what to begin with?

P: Attend art schools and follow your gut and imagination. Naturally, getting lucky and finding a good art mentor and fellow art students helps. Your environment shapes you, as well as the cultural and social background you grow up in.

However, making art is a long-term commitment with uncertain results. You need to be honest with yourself and decide if it's your essence calling to you or just a desire to be a part of the art world.

A: What are your three favourite words or phrases to use to describe art?

P: A painting should not require any phrases or additional clarification. It should speak for itself. I am most interested in communicating the relationship between space, canvas, and the audience - make everything fit together and work as a whole.

A: Could you please share your favorite Czech artists?

P: There is a whole bunch of significant and iconic Czech artists, such as Bohumil Kubišta, Jan Zrzavý, Mikoláš Medek, Zdeněk Sýkora, Stanislav Kolíbal, or Adriena Šimotová.

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

P: In my opinion, it's Jan Zrzavý's Valley of Sadness.

A: What is the best way to start a conversation about art?

P: Art doesn't need to be conversed about, it should speak for itself. I have a long-term interest in the possibilities of artworks eliciting emotions and the experience of the audience standing in front of the painting.

A: Where can we meet you most often? Where do you like to work, think, plan your next projects?

P: My favourite place to create is my studio but you have the best chance of meeting me at one of my guided tours which take place as a part of my exhibitions.

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

P: A quote by Marc Rothko comes to mind: "The most important tool the artist fashions through constant practice is the faith in his ability to produce miracles when they are needed. Pictures must be miraculous; the instant one is completed, the intimacy between the creation and the creator is ended. He is an outsider. The picture must be for him, as for anyone experiencing it later, a revelation, an unexpected and unprecedented resolution of an eternally familiar need."

Thank you.

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