In Peter Uchnár´s Atelier
(A: Artotéka, U: Uchnár, P.)
Peter Uchnár was graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts, Bratislava, Departament of Graphic Art and Book Illustrations. Two significant graphic artists - Dušan Kállay and Róbert Jančovič are acting at this departament in present time. This departament is well-known in Slovakia and other countries thanks to Albín Brunovský, who educated a lot of famous artists. All of them were more or less influenced by his fantastic realism. That is, why are these artists called "The School of Albín Brunovský".
A: If we speak about "the heritage of Albín Brunovský" in connection with your creation, what is interesting, is the question about presenting of a country. Not realistic country, but imaginary one. In the creation of Albín Brunovský we can find abstract countries from the end of the sixties - f.e. Garden for Borgonzoli´s Mother, Augusts Garden. How is it with your artistic expression, which was changed from veiled figural structures to the abstract countries?
U: By figural presenting I was engaged in the study of the moving and gesticulating. This figures were veiled into the draprie, where the moving creations were better standing out. In imaginary countries I try the possibility of presenting the object by both the realistic and abstract way at the same time. It is the presenting something, what a person can perceive as a space object, which is not possible unamibiguous snatch with the sense. This is the principle of the art, that the impartial observer stays somewhere on the boundary - if the presented object is real or imginar picture of something others.
A: But we can find this philosophy in the creation of Albín Brunovský too. He did not, mostly in the sixties, present real objects, but only theirs asociative meanings. He did it because he wanted, that the onlooker would emotionally decipher these formations.
U: I agree. Esentially the figures always with the drapery, which might be not the cloth, but other substance. The drapery reminds on something and it might be not something particular. The man is doubtful just why it represents nothig unambiuous. In my opinion this doubtfulness is in the art important.
A: In your countries it is like the roots of the trees overgrowed into the underground. Is it conincidental, or this natural leitmotive has in your works a concrete meaning?
U: The roots are in principle real and abstract compositions at the same time. The problem is, that there in abstract expresionism the matter is not about the presenting the real or imaginar form. It is only a differently layered colours. I use not only layers of the colours and the colour structure, but I try to express some form too. The man has some settled conventions of perception - some forms he perceives only like a signs and not like a space objects. For example the cloud - it is the object on the boundary of real and abstract percept. It is abstract, but it has the structure, which forced the observer to find something concret.
A: How do you cope with the problem of originality? Do you think, that this originally avant-garde principle of the creation is the commission of the art in present time too?
U: It is fundamental for the 20. ct. art, that there were tried nearly all, so today it is not necessary to look for something new. In spite of it, there is in contemporary art an effort to do always something new. Originally avant-garde principle starting being an conservative manners.
A: Your graphics and paintings appeal exceptionally with theirs technique. Can you tell us something about it?
U: I use mostly plastic engraving in the graphic. It is engraving into the plastic plates, which is a material for producing of plastic glasses, for example. This technique is very close to the wood engraving, because it makes a similar effect. The difference is, that I use other tools, which is not possible to use in the wood, but for the plastics they are very good. I make and sharpe them myself. They enables me a better, free, more expresive drawing and I can work directly. I use graphics techniques in painting too, for example the technique of scratching. I scratch and than tone maximall light places. The colour is beautifull connected when one colour is in underpainting. In every space exists a concrete light, which tones every objects. This is my technique. And I use a speciall japanese colours, which are a mixture of acrylic and gouache.
A: Up to now we have spoken about your free art creation. But you are a favourite book illustrator. The book Guliver´s Travell I. was awarded the Golden Apple on the Bratislava´s Biennial of the Illustrations in 1999. What kind of premises do you use in illustrating of the books?
U: I think, that it is necessary for the illustrator to read the text of the book. It is not enough to know only roughly the contents of the book. I take into account, for whom is the book written. It is necessary, that the illustration should be more concrete and delineated for small children till 6 years. The illustration for older children and adults can be not so concrete. It can be little dangerous depicting the main character of the story, because he can not to be universal like the author of the illustration see him. If you read the text, you can image the characters in accordance to yours imagination. Everyone can see them in different ways. And this is nice in the book. On the other side, when the illustrator made the character concrete, the readers are deprived on this opportunity.
A: If you get an order for book illustrations, have you concrete number of illustrations or is it on your decission?
U: It depends on the publishers. For example, when I illustrated Guliver´s Travells, the number of illustrations I fixed myself. But in other cases, the number of illustrations is fixed by the publisher. Difficult is the question of valuating of illustrations. Some publishers think, that better is to give the price for separated illustrations and then to calculate the price of the book. But it is necessary to see the illustrations like a unit. It is better for the illustrator, if his proposal are valuated like a one work - it should be a price for the proposal of illustrations. Then I can make more of them and the publiser could have a bigger possibility of a choice.
A: If you have a big order for illustration, do you not have a feeling, that you neglected your free art productions? Are you not frustrated from it?
U: It is not possible to undrestand that the illustrations are "only" an order, only a payed work. They are my productions too. When I illustrate a book, I find some thing, which I can use in my free art production. Some illustrations is possible to use not only in a book like an illustration - they are like a free art production. But there are some illustrations which are connected with the book. Some were made for the function of the book, but part of them were composed like individual artifacts. When I have made good illustrations, I have a good feeling as I have made a good painting. The artist can come to some border, when he makes only free art production. The illustrations can make artists happy. If I would do only a free art production, I can be quite exhaused after some time. When I make illustrations, I get new ideas. When I illustrate for example fairy-tales, I have a lot of moments, which I can pictured. And I chose these, which are near to my imagination and in that way I have connected the illustrations with my free art production.
Peter Uchnár stands at the beginning of his artistic career. It is too early to rate critically his art productions even though it was awarded in more international exhibitions. His philosophical attitudes to the principle of the art perceiving the boundary between the reality and abstractions are remarkable. Very interesting is the fact, that the artist let his artifacts "Without Name". This is not by a chance. It goes out from his philosophy of the perception, that the name can influence the onlookers senses. Neither the formal nor contents sense is not defined by the artist unambiguous. The understanding of his art production is on the onlookers. And this is interesting on it.
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