Inside the Studio

Jiri Havlik

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?

The most common theme for me is probably the female figure, in all of her facets and relations. I very often paint women’s beauty. Women are also linked to erotica, which can be symbolically expressed in many different ways. I am also interested in the social relationships created by women, and in the concept of the celebration of life in general.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

At school I was given many pieces of advice but I have not followed them all that much. The best advice was given to me by my father who didn’t want me to become a painter and an artist. He wanted me to have a form of conservative and stable employment. When I was about 18 years old he came to the realisation that I wanted to be a painter and that I would not give in. He bought a big book about Marc Chagall for me and said, “You have made your choice so you have to stick to it!” To this day this remains a great commitment for me and I still cherish the book.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?

The vast majority of my artwork has been created while listening to music. I always listen to music while I am painting because the tones and the rhythm help me to create objects, shapes, and lines, and also to paint feelings. Sometimes I just stop and listen. Or even dance. As far as classical music is concerned, I listen mainly to W.A. Mozart, A. Vivaldi, G.F. Händel, L. van Beethoven, C. Orff, and J. Canteloube. The minimalist P. Glass is also one of my favourites. I love women’s voices in general. I very often listen to old and modern jazz, world music, and rock.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?

That is very difficult to decide. I couldn’t possibly choose the best piece out of thousands of the best; it’s like saying that the others are somehow worse! So then, apart from all the others, I like Henri Matisse – La Danse (second version).

Who are your favourite writers?

Fyodor M. Dostoyevsky, Vercors (Jean Bruller), Bohumil Hrabal, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – Citadelle, Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea…And I really like haiku poetry.