From Šumperk, Czechia
Based in Prague, Czechia
We interviewed magnificent Radka Bodzewicz, whose artworks bust with life and grant us the chance to "live" with the piece - from start to end. Her work is a captivating spectacle of colors and details, abstract and figurative, but most importantly unique. As she told us: everyone needs to figure out their own path, persevere, and above all, always be in touch with their work.
A: Please, tell us a bit more about yourself. What brought you to art?
R: In primary school, I took art classes, I was drawn to artistic expression. I was told to choose between piano and art classes, which was perhaps the beginning of my journey. I liked the element of solitude and I enjoyed trying different techniques - as a kid, I wanted to know and learn all of them.
I was fascinated by the approach of my teacher at the time - Otakar Vystrčil, an artist from Olomouc who was an elderly man already and substituted for our lector. He'd always assign an exercise and retreat to work on his own projects. I'd secretly watch him, he had this bemused expression and looked genuinely happy, savoring each brushstroke.
I moved on to art high schools - one in Šumperk, where I only stayed for a year, and then in Brno, under Petr Veselý's tutelage. Then followed the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, where I attended Jindřich Zeithamml's sculpture classes and Vladimír Kokolia's graphic design classes.
My turning point happened during an internship at Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen which introduced a new education style and overall attitude to higher education in art. After finishing my studies at the Academy I received a grant from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation which allowed me to fully immerse myself in my work. I began exhibiting frequently and exploring new possibilities in painting and artistic expression itself. I became interested in combining classic media with virtual reality - that is, augmented reality and creating whole landscapes in VR. I've stuck to that since.
A: What inspires you the most?
R: I don't seek inspiration, but I read a lot, pay attention to my surroundings (visually). My paintings come to me little by little as my day progresses. It's important to me to be constantly in touch with my works. They reflect my intuitive process as well as my everyday experience.
A: Do you have any specific rituals while working (creating)?
R: Yes, a few. I have several journals - one for everyday sketches where I record visual material as it comes to me. Another one, my "workbook", is for taking notes of my ideas - on themes, visuals, etc. And in my "inspiration book" I collect different inspiring material to use later. That's my daily habit, but when it comes to rituals - perhaps going to my studio every day. Either to work or at least tidy up, since cleaning helps me sort my thoughts. I believe that the tidiness of one's space reflects the tidiness of their mind.
A: What would you recommend to someone new to art (an artist or just an admirer); what to begin with?
R: Every artist is a unique individual and needs to figure out their own way of doing things. From my experience, I can say it's essential to keep creating - sketch, note down, read, follow, or at least train the visual memory to hold an image, learn to create a whole image in your head. Another key ingredient is the urge, the itch to create. If there is none, it shows in the artwork.
A: Your top 3 words or phrases related to art?
R: I don't think I have one phrase I like to use when talking about art. Each time the experience is different, depending on what I'm looking at. Rather than words or phrases, I focus on the angle I take when observing art.
A: Do you have favorite Czech artists?
R: I do. František Ronovský's works never cease to resonate with me. I admire the way he works with the figure, lightly yet strikingly; his works tend to hit hard. Then I'd like to highlight Adriena Šimotová, the sensitive handling of her own hands, delicacy, and treatment of paint. Václav Boštík and his unique tenderness and charge. I've always liked drawings of Jitka and Květa Válovy and their raw humor. Jindra Viková, her ceramic sculpture, and figural installation. František Skála and his distinctive style, Jan Hose's original painting.
From the younger generation, I appreciate Martin Skalický who found a one-of-a-kind way of expression which keeps evolving. Martin Salajka's paintings, and Petra Švecová's paintings. She experiences the landscape gradually and transforms it into a colorful abstraction. There are many more who captivates my attention. I think we have many artists with a strong and unique expressions.
A: What piece of art do you think embodies the Czech national spirit and culture? Why?
R: To be honest I can't relate to this kind of patriotism. I've purposefully learned to not pay attention to them and consider them a relic of the past. However, Master Theodorik's portrait evokes the sense of "Czech" in me, even though he wasn't Czech himself. Lately, there has also been a certain cult of the former president Vávlav Havel whom I also associate with the Czech spirit, although I'm not sure if the obsession with him is still within "healthy" limits.
A: The perfect phrase to start any conversation about art is: ..?
R: I usually talk about art with my fellow artists with whom we often debate formal topics, such as material or technique. Also, longer, deeper debates about themes and meanings, but don't really work in group settings. I definitely like to ask - what have you been up to lately, what are you reading right now, what has caught your attention recently, what exhibitions have you visited...
A: Where can we meet you?
R: Definitely in my studio at home, at a gallery or with my kids, on a playground, or in the woods.
A: Please, share your favorite quote (not necessarily related to art)
R: Keep going.