Interview with Monika Tichacek

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon on Tuesday 24 May 2011.

breathing dark soil maze 2009/11 image the Albert Street boys pitching in to get Monika's work off the truck image Beauty shattered all ideas of who I am 2011 performance with harpist Robert Neil 120 minutes image to all my relations 1 2009/11 (detail) image the space in everything 2009/11 image

This interview originally appeared on Karen Woodbury Gallery blog. Kindly reproduced with permission. On the eve of her highly anticipated performance and solo exhibition after an absence of 6 years from the arts scene we spoke to Monika Tichacek about art, life and what's been keeping her inspired...

Describe your work in 5 words.
Mysterious, Alive, Manifest – un-manifest, Intricate
Tell us about your practice?
I am still very interested in the experience of self. Still investigating myself personally in relation to what is present in my inner life. Whilst this is the constant, the environment where the self is engaged has changed. My earlier works reflects my sense of self being very anchored in the physical and social constructs of femininity with an air of oppressive confinement and constriction. In the Shadowers I dove more deeply into the psyche, portraying parts of the ego through distinct characters. Habituated workings of the mind were exposed as self-limiting and self-torturous. The relationship to the natural world was portrayed as conflicting and disturbed. The behaviour of the different characters was controlling and destructive… And yet throughout the darkness there were many glimmers of light, literally communicated via the use of light and sequins, jewels and rubies glistening in images of death and decay.
During my past years with much time spent in silence in nature I was able to see my western cultural inheritance. Our approach to nature, one of domination, control and destruction our cultures obsession with superficial surface appearance. The Shadowerks was an outcry at this condition, like taking the lid off the pressure cooker. Since then, and in my travels I have let nature teach me and I have spent much time investigating the nature of the mind. Therefore now my interest in the experience of self is investigated via my interest in the complex workings of our ecosystem, which I believe is a metaphor for the internal workings of the body/mind experience.
I am finding that drawing is very intimate and very kinaesthetic. There is not so much separation between myself and the process – in the sense of embodying the process directly. I felt that with the video works there was a lot of process, which was very practical, and to do much with planning before I would get to the part of physical embodiment of my ideas. With drawing the process is happening right in that moment, I have to be intensely present.

The new exhibition at Karen Woodbury has been long awaited, tell us about the journey of making this project come to life?
That is too big a story really! All of my travels and life essentially collide into this project. Everything I have experienced up until now has brought me to express in this way at this point.
However, I can say that the drawings began in the jungle, where I sat in 2 months of semi solitude. I would break open some ink pens and randomly splatter the paint on the paper. Then I would sit and watch to see what shapes would emerge. I would draw what I saw and that was the beginning of this drawing series.

Tell us a little about your travels.
Much time spent in nature, listening, observing and letting go of the fast paced life as much as possible. I experienced as much as possible of indigenous ceremony and ways of life as possible.
Who or what inspires you to keep making?
Art is my language. It surpasses the intellect and cannot be confined or categorised. It is endlessly creative with limitless potentiality. I like that…it’s a doorway to touch infinity.
What path led you to become an artist?
Ever since I was little I wanted to be an artist and I used to draw from the time that I could hold crayons. Art was always my favourite subject in school. After high school I went to art school for a year in Zurich. I then diverted for a few years and studied social sciences to quench my thirst to know more about the human psychological and social experience. However I eagerly went back to art as my creative side was dying in such an intensely academic environment.
What does a typical day in the studio involve?
There isn’t really a typical day, but with this last project it would mostly be drawing. I also spent a lot of time just looking and meditating on the painting with my eyes open until the shapes to be drawn would appear.
What is your dream project?
Whatever comes from the most genuine place of inspiration
If you could live with any artwork ever made what would it be?
I do live with it – I live in the bush…Actually it is the light, and the way it plays with the surfaces…to me it is one of the most beautiful visual experiences.
Karen Woodbury Gallery on Artabase
Monika Tichacek on Artabase