Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Petra Teršlová, Painter, Tells Her Story

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I have been interested in art since my childhood. My parents took me often abroad so I had a chance to see different cultures including various forms of art. For its freedom and variety, both in culture and art, I fell in love with London, which I have visited every year since I was about 15 years old. I enjoyed the time spent in the National Gallery and Tate Modern watching and analysing the paintings. Although I admired the talent of those great artists such as Turner, Gogh and Sisley, I myself couldn´t paint at all.

Dream, oil on linen, 70 x 70 cm

My first attempt to paint was just several years ago while I was studying law at the Charles University in Prague. The truth is that I really enjoyed my studies. On the other hand; however, I felt I needed to balance my life with some different activity, totally unrelated to law. I experienced a very urgent desire to have a break from loads of thick books, complicated and constantly changing laws and many not very easy-to-digest cases which had to be read and learnt. At that time I relaxed doing sports, but then it somehow was not enough. I felt that I needed to be active in some other - more creative - way.

New Beginnings, oil on linen, 70 x 90 cm

I gave painting a chance - it was playful, colourful, free and spontaneous. I found the whole new world to discover. At the beginning I struggled a lot because of the lack of any art education. But I was eager to learn and experiment on my own with different media and techniques. However, I felt that I could have made much bigger progress if I had taken classes with real artists.

Fragments, oil on canvas, 50 x 60 cm

During my studies at the Charles University and after my graduation I had an opportunity to attend many art courses at The Art Academy in London. I was lucky enough to meet and learn from excellent painters such as Tai-Shan Schierenberg, Brendan Kelly, Catharine Prendergast and many others.

Since then my work developed rather surprisingly from very joyful and colourful cityscapes to much darker, and mysterious places. What hasn´t changed is my interest in architecture, urban, industrial and derelict places that some would rather avoid. These places, structures and machines that I like to paint may not be in operation anymore yet they are endowed with very special atmosphere and spirit - a strong energy that is left.

Escape, oil on canvas, 70 x 90 cm

My paintings are oscillating between reality and my imagination. I call them “unknown landscapes” or “non-places” because you cannot clearly identify them. Where are they? Is it night or is it morning? Is it warm or is it cold? Something is not quite right here and it is difficult to say what it is.  This is what I admire in paintings in general – the ambiguity, obscurity and mystery.

As for the painting process, my works are usually based on my own photos, sketches, videos and even memories of the real world; however, the final works are never simple copies of my reference images. Quite the opposite, they have a very different feeling and an almost dream-like quality to them. I never know what the final painting will look like and that is also what I enjoy. I start with one idea but as I progress with the painting I come up with more thoughts, which I try to incorporate.  Thus the final piece is a combination of my fantasy, my interest in the mystery, “the unknown” and my reference images.

Garbage, oil on canvas, 60 x 80 cm

Although my focus is on the half-real half-imagined scenes, I began experimenting with semi-abstraction. Thus in my portfolio you can see paintings like Garbage, Fragments and New Beginnings. In spite of the fact that they may vary in subject matter, they each have one thing in common –  it is always something very complex and chaotic such as ruins or even a dump. The more complicated the scene, the better in this case. But rather than painting every single detail, I am interested in the variety of shapes, colours and how the materiality of paint can evoke a texture of the chosen object.

Isolation, oil on canvas, 70 x  90 cm

This is Week 6 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Petra's story today. To connect with Petra and see more of her work, please visit the following links:


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