Lilian Ptáček is in her second year of Painting and Printmaking at the Glasgow School of Art. I spoke to her about her approach to art making, the art scene in Glasgow and her work at the moment.
What motivates you to create art?
Visual images are the best form of communication for me, and have been from a young age. I vividly remember drawing a vase of physalis – those orange Chinese lantern flowers. I must have been 4 or 5 years old, and I was at an after-school art club in the home of a local artist in South London. That was the first time I tackled perspective even though I didn’t know the word. I was struggling to draw a vase of flowers on a table, and it was frustrating, because I could see it but I couldn’t draw it. I wasn’t drawing what I was seeing, I was drawing what I thought I was seeing. I’m still doing that. Images can capture the ineffable, moving descriptions of art into a secondary medium.
Ode to Bosch, Lithograph
What is happening with the art scene in Glasgow?
Glasgow, and to a large degree Scotland, does not have its own art market. Arguably because of that, Glasgow has one of the most thriving art scenes in the world. This lack of ‘market’ seems to prompt a high degree of freedom and experimentation in the work of artists living here. Artists collectives and artist-run galleries abound, making best use of the profusion of cheap, dilapidated architectural gems that are very much part of this city.
Untitled (Rust Window), Rust deposits on paper
Detail of Untitled, (Rust Window)
What are you working on at the moment?
Throughout art history there has been the idea of ‘an artist’, the genius, a singular being. – although we know that these individuals often have teams of assistants helping them achieve the artwork. I believe the moment is ripe to engage with collaborative projects and that’s pretty much what I have been working on in my exhibitions lately. In a recent exhibition in a large Glaswegian flat, every aspect and surface was used as a plinth to display the work, inspired by Jeremy Deller’s first exhibition in his bedroom. There were drawings in the draws, video in the washing machine, projections onto the neighbouring house, live sound art in a bathroom and on the spiral stairs, a paper installation in another bathroom, spoken word and live music in the bedrooms, and a mountain composed of furniture in the hallway. This was an exhibition that allowed the context of the environment to shape and inform the work.
My studio space is a little like a laboratory: in one corner I have boxes with drawings wrapped in steel wool immersed in water, salt and vinegar. Here I leave chemical processes and time to affect my images. This is similar to the work I do in the print studios where I again allow chemical processes to work upon my drawings, albeit in a more traditional format.
At the moment I’m using 18th century anatomical etchings in diverse ways. Some are reworked to form part of my own landscape etchings. Others are used to create graphic screen prints from which I make wallpaper and upholstery fabric. All of these artworks come together in the form of bizarre room installations.
Right: Hospital print, Screen print. Left: Hospital Chair, Screen print.
More of Lilian’s work can be found here.