321 East 73rd Street, 3rd Floor

New York City, NY 10021

News > Kamila Stanclova on Inspiration and Dreams

Kamila Stanclova on Inspiration and Dreams

Katerina Kyselica 18 October, 2016

Dreams may seem like a mirage. For Slovak artist Kamila Stanclova, whose fine art prints were exhibited at BBLA Gallery in "Celebrating Print 2014" exhibition,  dreaming is almost like breathing. I was invited to peek into Ms. Stanclova’s intimate world of art making that turned out to be as expansive as her imagination. The studio occupying the entire top floor of her and her husband Dusan Kallay’s family home in Bratislava, Slovakia, was bathed in the abundance of soft daylight. The realms of literature and visual arts interlace in the practice of Ms. Slanclova, who was trained as a printmaker and book illustrator. Her command of printmaking is breathtaking, as if she were born to make prints.


Mrs. Kamila Stanclova at her home studio in Bratislava. Photograph by Katerina Kyselica.


You studied printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava in the atelier of Vincent Hloznik, an icon of modern Slovak printmaking. How was he as a teacher? Vincent Hloznik was a great artist, printmaker and painter, and a wonderful man. He treated us, the students, as equals. He valued creativity and hard work, and he was also capable of understanding and encouragement. Hloznik wasn’t apathetic towards the social changes that happened in the former Czechoslovakia during the turbulent years of 1966–1971. His project assignments were always interesting. In 1968, after the invasion of the former Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact Army, we were assigned a project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the independent Czechoslovak Republic, which was a clear message towards the establishment. Hloznik also challenged our technical skills, asking us to work in and practice a variety of techniques. As a result, we learned different methods of lithography, stone engraving, linocut, wood engraving, drypoint, mezzotint and, of course, intaglio. We appreciated and enjoyed his sharing of his own practice with us. Hloznik was an amazing role model for his work ethic and diligence.


When did you exactly come to work in printmaking? As a teenager, I attended a vocational school where I studied printmaking. But I wasn’t accepted right away; too many children wanted to study printmaking. I was already interested in the medium at that point. Although I drew as a child, drawing was never my passion. By the end of high school, I knew I wanted to study printmaking with Vincent Hloznik at the Academy.


So, you learned printmaking techniques in high school? Only the basic techniques, drypoint and linocut.


From your prints, etchings are probably the most recognizable to the public and the collectors. However, you work in number of other techniques. For instance, here I can see a lithographic stone with a drawing on it, ready for printing. You also practice wood engraving, and you created many linocuts, including your intriguing and quite extensive master thesis, back in school in the 1960s. Yes, the master thesis included seven linocuts exploring the theme of the French Revolution. I was inspired by Peter Weiss’ book The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, a paraphrase of a comedy and drama. I made four individual linocuts and a triptych. The project also contained an artist’s book with poems by Robinson Jeffers, for which I chose wood engravings, along with Days and Dreams, a series of 15 color lithographs, and four etchings entitled From My Life. I enjoy using different printmaking techniques. I feel like I could come to a deadlock if I were to use only one technique.


Image: Kamila Stanclova, The Old Moving House, 1982, etching. Photograph by the artist.


Does your family history reflect in your work? For instance, in the print The Old Moving House (1982), I noticed the text “Michal Stancel, Wheelwright” written on the facade of the house and some portraits. Are they family portraits? I created this print based on my dream about our home in the city of Kremnica right after my aunt died. She lived there. I drew the home as a mobile house because I wished to have it here in Bratislava with me. I added my grandfather with a wheel on the side of the image, as well as my grandmother with her children—my father and his older sister. The brother of my grandfather is also in the story; he left for America. Only two old photographs remained of him. Once I discovered an old seal that my grandfather used for his trade as a wheelwright. The print shows a wheel in the center with a compass; in the four corners there is a square, an axe and my grandfather’s initials. The seal is made of a yellow metal, so it looks like gold. Such a precious little object, with a tiny holder for better grip. I like it very much. You can find its impression in many of my etchings. When I use the seal, I first ink it with rainbow colors—yellow, red and purple. After I press it, I apply black and brown, the two standard hues I use for etchings.


>> Continue reading at Celebrating Print Magazine

This interview was prepared for and published in Celebrating Print Magazine, in Vol.2 No.2. It has been posted in part on BBLA website with permission of KADS New York, the publisher of Celebrating Print Magazine.


Bohemian Benevolent & Literary AssociationHospodaThe National Czech and Slovak MuseumAmerican Friends of the Czech RepublicCzech CenterConsulate General