Connection: Petr Nikl

18 3 2024

Petr Nikl (*1960) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, where he was a member of the atelier of monumental and figurative painting. He is one of the founding members of the artistic group Tvrdohlaví (Strongheads). Thanks to his rich imagination and childlike sensitivity, he soon established himself as an intermedia artist with classical roots who freely and convincingly crosses the boundaries between different genres. He is involved in traditional artistic techniques such as painting, drawing, and graphics (especially mezzotint), but he is also the author of poems, fairy tales, illustrations, and several books. An essential chapter of his work is performance and interactive projects that combine experimental theatre (puppetry and drama) with musical performance. He uses his voice, singing, curious self-made sound instruments, and crazy disguises to play with his identity. His undying fascination with exploring the world is also manifested in his improvisations, where he “draws” shapes using moving electronic machines. At other times, he lets patches of colour spill onto tissue paper, their mirrored decals creating symmetrical flowers.

Automatic drawing occupies a prominent place in Nikl's work. The swirling shapes of shells or opening buds show affinities with the creations of Czech and Moravian spiritualists from the first half of the twentieth century. In addition to compact shapes, among his drawings, we also find hints of completely non-specific trembling “mental landscapes” reminiscent of organic structures. With sensitivity and at the same time concentration, he lets his hand mediate the connection to the mysterious play of shapes outside of conscious reality. Even though they are created completely involuntarily, without a primary intention, they are a fully-fledged part of his colourful oeuvre.