From Prague, Czechia
Based in Prague
Tereza Zichová creates colorful paintings which are populated by odd casts of characters situated in similarly strange, psychedelic interiors. Her works feel like a dream - they showcase a collection of moments she experiences in her daily life, memories of her childhood, or her own dreams. The topic of dreams is a central element of her work; after all, it was a dream she had at the age of twelve that inspired her to become an artist.
To se nosí, olej na plátně, 2021
A: Please, tell us a bit more about yourself. What brought you to art?
T: I assume a lot of people answer the same thing to this, that they have felt the urge since they were little. For example, you’re watching a film where a man is sketching a woman, and you suddenly have this eye-opening moment: you ask your mom to pose like the lady on the screen because you want to sketch her like that too. That’s how it begins.
My most formative moment happened when I was twelve and I had a dream about being a painter that made me realize I wanted to be one in real life as well. I grabbed any artistic supply I found at home, got a piece of plywood from grandpa, and painted the painting from my dream. Things naturally started moving after that, I took art classes and it became very clear which way I was going to go…
I am very dyslectic and I had D’s and F’s in primary school. Yet, I knew I had intellect, even though the teacher often made me feel stupid. (laughs) And because I was bad at everything except for art, I became very determined.
A: What inspires you the most?
T: I paint whatever I am surrounded by and experiencing at the moment, so my daily life, my days, the aesthetic I see around me, … All of that finds its way into my paintings. My paintings are pure “me.”
A: Do you have any specific rituals while working (creating)?
T: I like to have a cup of coffee before I start painting. I used to smoke a lot, too, but since I have an almost-one-year-old daughter now, my smoking days are over. (laughs) I used to be a really heavy smoker and smoking was actually a part of my work process; I’d smoke before work, during, and at breaks, … That was a strong ritual I had to replace with breastfeeding. (laughs)
I also like to prepare thoroughly before work. I study carefully, sketch, …
A: What would you recommend to someone new to art (an artist or just an admirer)? What to begin with?
T: To start going to openings and not be afraid to converse with others there. To read about art history because the public has very limited knowledge of it - they know Dalí, van Gogh, Picasso, maybe the Impressionists, and that’s it. If I asked someone to name one contemporary Czech living artist, most people wouldn’t know. But everyone knows professional athletes, even me, and I don't even care about sport. The news segment on the TV is always followed by sports news and culture is only touched on sporadically. I find this baffling and unbelievable - back in the day, the culture used to be so important for the people, even the poorer were interested and visited galleries, etc.!
I also think it’s helpful when you find someone who has studied art and have them teach you. A lot of those people make extra cash on the side by teaching others, and they’re often the best teachers.
A: Your top 3 words or phrases related to art?
T: When talking about artworks, I like to use the word “juicy.” It means the artwork has some sort of power or strength. I also often say that something is “atmospheric.” For the third word, I chose “sexy,” which is a word that some people might understand positively but for me has a more negative connotation.
A: Your favorite Czech artists?
T: Of course, I have to mention Michael Rittstein. I studied in his painting class and we’ve stayed in touch to this day. It’s the same with Jiří Petrbok, whose drawing workshop I studied afterward. But it may be obvious that someone you’re around so much, influences you significantly.
A: What piece of art do you think embodies the Czech national spirit and culture? Why?
T: Not these days, no. In the past, it could have been The Slav Epic or Josef Lada’s work, maybe Jára Cimrman, but those aren’t symbols of the present. I am actually quite disappointed by today’s Czech mentality. I live in my own little social bubble and whenever I leave it, I just end up being sad or surprised about what I find. For example, people electing Zeman our president for the second time - I just don’t get that. It’s just hard for me to accept this kind of mentality being the majority.
A: How do you like to connect with others through art?
T: When it comes to me and my friends, the conversation about art never ends. We often pop into each other's studios and check on each other. It usually goes like this: “Hey, I’ve been alone with this thing for too long, come have a look at it and tell me what you think, so I have a fresh and unbiased perspective to compare.” When you’re holed up with one artwork for a long or when you’ve been working on something for ages, you miss a lot of things. A fellow artist who is not invested in it like you can often offer help or a piece of useful advice. It’s always better to work in a larger group - firstly because you get a variety of perspectives, and secondly, because no matter whether they agree or not, an outside perspective always get you thinking.
Having a conversation about art with someone who doesn’t understand it can be quite challenging. I’ll try to explain it in a way that makes sense, but I am no great speaker, that’s why I paint. (laughs) Basically, when you’ve been painting and spending time around art for years, you’ll gradually open this “third eye” - suddenly you realize you are able to tell between good art and bad. But an average person can’t, because they don’t have the necessary experience. People like that only know if they like something or not.
A: Where can we meet you?
T: I am always in Libeň, Prague. I pack my daughter in the morning, head over to Libeň, and stay in the studio until two or three in the afternoon. Then we go outside for a bit, and when we get home and she goes to bed, I sketch for a while.
A: Is there any quote or idea that has guided you in your work and/or life?
T: I often like to say that the world is not black and white. It works because I make very colorful paintings and because I like to look at the world with the knowledge that you never know everything there is to know, nothing is only good or only bad. I prefer seeing things as a whole.
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