From Zlín, Zlín region, Czechia
Based in Prague, Czechia
Petr Bařinka's work draws from his personal experiences, both good and bad. He processes them with a certain hyperbole, concealing them into a playful, almost childish presentation; real problems reframed in new, fairy-tale worlds.
A: Please, tell us a bit more about yourself. What brought you to art?
P: Like most artists, I’ve been creative since I was a child. I would draw a lot, go to after-school art classes. I studied at the Secondary School of Applied Art in Uherské Hradiště, then at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, and I did my Ph.D. in Bratislava, Slovakia, at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design. I have explored many different styles and techniques, from graphic design to illustration and sculpture, and finally, painting, to which I devoted my studies in Bratislava.
A: What inspires you the most?
P: Anything that happens around me. The reality, which I take in and transform into something mine.
A: Do you have any specific rituals while working (creating)?
P: I prefer silence when working, I don’t listen to music. This is my most important ritual as it helps me find my inner peace as well. I always set aside time specifically for work because I usually have to divide my time between multiple activities, and this way I know that the time I set aside is meant for work only. No distractions; my phone and laptop are put away.
A: What would you recommend to someone new to art (an artist or just an admirer), what to begin with?
P: If you’re thinking about becoming an artist yourself, you need to understand that it’s not an easy journey. Contrary to popular belief, things will not start happening for you by themselves once you finish art school. Many factors play a role in what happens next - it depends on who you know, and whose support you have. It’s necessary to have some financial support in the beginning, especially when you intend to make art your full-time job. If that’s your case, you need to have all this figured out. Have good marketing, surround yourself with people who will help you grow or people who will buy your art.
Even I don’t make living with art. There was a time in my life when I tried to make that happen but I realized that I am not one of those artists who can achieve that. I had better phases, but I also had worse. I’ve decided to devote my time to other endeavors as well which allows me to create for myself. And if a piece sells, then it’s a nice perk on top.
To sum it up, I recommend thinking carefully about your expectations. Whether you want art to be your source of livelihood, whether you want to have a family in the future. With family, you can’t exactly afford to be the kind of artist who survives on bread and water.
A: Your top 3 phrases/words related to art?
P: Communication, since the artist uses their art to communicate with the world. Realization, in the sense of self-realization. The artist understands art as their purpose, they do it in their own way and nobody else can do it like them. And to some extent, art is a gift - to those who consume it. Art enriches people’s lives, whether it’s at exhibitions or in private collections.
A: Your favorite Czech artists?
P: From the older ones I like Váchal, who always did things in his own way. He wasn’t a mainstream artist even in his time, and what he did, he did consistently and continually. He was a very interesting personality. I also appreciate his connection to spiritualism and occultism.
From the artists who came a generation or two before me, I enjoy for example Kintera or Bolf. They both have come a long way and deserve their success. When I was starting with art, my favorite was František Skála, especially his objects. He is a typically Czech artist, similarly to Váchal. When it comes to younger authors, I like Jakub Janovský or Honza Vytiska.
However, I am not a big fan of conceptual art myself. There are some good quality conceptual pieces, but the rest only really works on the theoretical level. I prefer works that draw from personal experience.
A: What piece of art do you think embodies the Czech national spirit and culture? Why?
P: My mind immediately went to Švejk, even though that’s a book. His character essentially embodies the Czech mentality. In fine arts, it would be Josef Lada’s work, who also illustrated Švejk.
I studied under Kurt Gebauer whose mentality is strongly Czech. he has a distinctive, playful approach; he likes to make fun of things that happen around him. Yet despite his irony, he has kindness in him, too.
A: The perfect phrase to start any conversation about art is: ..?
P: The easiest way to connect is through exhibitions, guided tours, or openings where people can meet the artist. Just going to the exhibition and reading about the artist works too. But I’m afraid people aren’t very used to that. Maybe in Prague but the galleries in smaller towns are empty, even though they often have good quality exhibitions on, people just don’t think to go there. There is still a distinct boundary between official institutions which present art and the public who consumes it. Art is still seen as something that the public doesn’t understand, so they aren’t interested. It has been getting better, though. It would be great if we could open up art to people and show them that it’s not that hard to “understand” it after all.
A: Where can we meet you most often?
P: I am one of those artists who don’t really take part in the art community life. I don’t even go to the openings often. To be honest, I’ve never felt very good in the art environment. If anyone can meet me, it’s people who know me in person rather than art fans. Although I do go to the cinema a lot, so maybe you could run into me there.
A: Please, share your favorite quote (not necessarily related to art):
P: “Keep going.” Don’t stop, even if the road ahead is bumpy and full of twists and turns.