From Prague, Czechia
Based in Prague, Czechia
Tomáš Tichý explores societal mechanisms and changes and transformations the human civilization experiences as their consequence. In his latest work, he’s been inspired by contemporary topics such as misinformation and other phantom menaces our society has been dealing with in the 21st century
A: Please, tell us a bit more about yourself. What brought you to art?
T: My studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague were a crucial factor for me. It was a very intense time in my life. I studied art restoration in professor Stretti’s class. I spent the first three years of my studies under the impression I would be able to both restore art and create it in the future. That was naive of me considering that each of these professions require full focus and doing both would mean that sooner or later, I’d begin to slack off with either one of them. I was very fond of art restoration and I owe a lot to it but I had always loved painting and didn’t want to compromise.
My thesis exhibition was a milestone. Our year was curated by the Austrian painter and guest teacher at the time, Markus Huemer. He came to visit my studio to see what I was planning to exhibit and he saw that besides art restoration works, I had a large cycle of my own works there. It absolutely shocked him and he kept coming back to my works over and over again. He provided me with a great space for the exhibition and for the first time in my life, I was able to present my own work. In that moment, I had no idea how much he helped me back then. The exhibition kick-started all of my future artistic direction and gave me the confidence I was lacking. I quit art restoration then. That was eleven years ago and since then, I’ve had dozens of exhibitions in Czechia and abroad.
A: What inspires you the most?
T: I think more than inspiration it’s all about a certain sensitivity or openness to the world around me and my inner impulses. My entire body of work is centred around the civilisation transformations of the human. I am interested in the tensions in our society - that which moulds our global consciousness. The past few years I have found the themes of manipulation and misinformation or various forms of hidden or suspected danger showing up in my works. Painting is my outlet that allows me to process my own lived reality.
A: Do you have any specific rituals while working (creating)?
T: The moment of my arrival at the studio is essential for me; the calming of mind and maintaining a routine of preparation of paint and other materials. If this moment remains undisturbed, I normally manage to stay in high focus. Each stage of painting is different. In the beginning - in the searching phase - I usually require quiet. Later in the process I switch between quiet and various music genres. Music is the best stimulant - it helps me calm down or relax.
A: What would you recommend to someone new to art (an artist or just an admirer), what to begin with?
T: I think it depends on the kind of artistic form you want to do. If you want to express yourself through figurative painting, your studies will be a different experience than if you decide to study conceptual or intermedia art. In any case, authenticity of the artistic expression and determination to overcome challenges are crucial.
A: Your top 3 phrases related to art?
T: I always try to see art with a child-like open-mindedness and without bias, and to not rely on previously-created patterns of understanding. Sure we all have our preferred forms of artistic expression but it’s healthy to learn to consume various forms of artistic approach rather than consuming only the kinds that are close to our own.
A: Your favorite Czech artists?
T: We have plethora of absolutely brilliant artists in Czechia, I just wish the Czech art institutions tried better to integrate our art in the global scene.
Recently I visited Věra Nováková's exhibition in Dox. In many ways, she is an extraordinary artist and personality. She spent a large portion of her artistic career as a banned artist and together with her husband Pavel Brázda, they created amazing works, despite the communist tyranny.
A: What piece of art do you think embodies the Czech national spirit and culture? Why?
T: That’s a hard question. If we asked in a public poll, I think J. V. Myslbek’s St. Wenceslas would place very high - every single Czech knows it from the Wenceslas Square. The answer would be different if we tried finding a work that would symbolise the Czech nature. In this sense, the first two I can think of are Kupka and Mucha. However, each in a slightly different way - both of them are an example of how us Czechs don’t know how to celebrate and promote our icons. I personally consider František Kupka the greatest Czech artist, although the greatness of his work largely exceeds the borders of the Czech region. Therefore, I think of him as more of a great European.
Purely Czech themes have been explored by such painters as Adam Štech, Jakub Tomáš, or Hanka Puchová. Works of Aleš Brázdil or Daniel Pitín showcase more global themes. I also like to follow the work of Zbyněk Sedlecký, Vladimír Véla, Alžběta Josefy, Jakub Čuška, Adéla Janská, or the sculptors Ondřej Oliva or Kryštof Hošek.
A: The perfect phrase to start any conversation about art is: …?
T: Just like music or literature, visual art is a form of communication. The canvas can communicated with the audience on multiple levels. I believe that it can capture the audience’s attention even before the fully understand its content. That happens during the first brief look and under the influence of positive subliminal manipulations, which consist of a collection of technical and psychological properties of the artwork. Understanding the contents comes later. The marketing industry perfectly controls these manipulations in a negative way as it uses them against the audience. The good thing about a painting is that you can enjoy it even without fully understanding it.
A: Where can we meet you most often?
T: For many years I had my studio away from home. Three years ago I moved to a bigger house with my family where I created a studio for myself, so now I have work and family under one roof. I’ve realised that’s how I like it best. I try to spend as much of my free time with my family as possible.
I recently closed my exhibition Disconnection at The Chemistry Gallery in Prague we published a lovely catalogue for. This summer I am on residence in Telegraph in Olomouc and I am preparing an autumn exhibition for the Crag Gallery in Turin, Italy.
A: Do you have a motto or an idea that has guided you in your work and/or in life?
T: I don’t think so but lately I’ve had this Salman Rushdie quote on my mind - that all sin comes from inadequacy; simply said, most of this world’s problem stem from inadequacy. I am always impressed by the truthfulness of that thought.