Kintera: Owners are brave to hang my drawings in their rooms!
Leading Czech artist Krištof Kintera is known for large, often complex objects that frequently involve electricity. However, he has also been making poster-style works for two decades and these have now been assembled en masse for a major new exhibition in Prague entitled How Can I Help You? I spoke to Kintera at the show at the DOX gallery.
Here there are something like 300 of these “drawings” as you call them, 3D works with slogans or words and some objects. What part do they play in your work?
“You know, I feel the most happy when I do them. It’s my passion.
“It’s true that I also do other stuff, and more complicated, but this is for me easy to do, very instant and very sincere.
“They are kind of remarks on what I observe all around me.”
I presume you’ve never seen so many of them in the same place. What’s the experience been like, seeing them all together?
“It was really my dream, which I thought might never happen.
“Because it’s big logistics – you have to imagine that there are more than 100 owners of the pieces.
“So I thought it wasn’t possible. I was just dreaming about it.
“And the dream came true and I’m very happy.
“I was looking forward to this moment – to have them all together in one big, huge room.”
Were there any that you had completely, or largely, forgotten?
“Yes. The investigation was kind of a process, because of course I remember some of the main collectors; some of them have more pieces.
“But it’s not possible to remember everything, so it was a kind of investigation.
“I was asking people if they knew who had my pieces. It was fun.”
Some of them are just funny. For example I laughed earlier when I saw “The Socks of Jesus Christ”. Do you make yourself laugh doing these?
“Yes, I do, I do [laughs]. It’s a lot of fun.
“Humour is very important in our lives – it helps us to survive.
“And I’m not afraid to use it.
“I think that many people consider humour as inconvenient in art in a way.
“I try to use the humour, but speak about deep topics.”
This is a kind of a side issue, but I presume these are relatively affordable compared to your other works. Do you have a permanent list of people waiting to buy new ones?
“[Laughs] No, but I have a lot of calls and messages.
“I’m really surprised… I don’t make them to decorate living rooms at all, and I was never thinking about sales.
“I’m very often surprised what people can have in their rooms.
“They are brave [laughs].”
You also have something new here, which is a huge collection of barrels, cans, bottles and so on repurposed, with words like “Shame”, “Courage”, “Frustration” written over them. What are they all about?
“I got really enthusiastic about doing it.
“I call it a kind of ‘psycho apothecary’.
“It comes from one of my drawings, where I made small shelves with a couple of ingredients of our daily life.
“Then I decided, OK, let’s do it big.
“A funny moment was when I just got myself the first load of these barrels and cans.
“It was one full van and when I saw it I thought, Oh, shit, I have so many barrels – I won’t be able to name them all.
“And then I started and I realised it’s endless.
“The expressions of those psycho ingredients… there are so many words you can use and it became quite a funny game.
“Because I use archaic naming of them but also slang – so it’s based on language, a lot.”
Some of the items there are quite small, like gloves and things like that. As always at your exhibitions there’s a lot of stuff here. Are you almost inviting people to put something in their pocket and take a Kintera home?
“Of course this can happen, and I don’t mind.
“Let’s do it [laughs].”
How Can I Help You?
Poupětova 1, Prague 7
Czech sculptor Krištof Kintera, known for thought-provoking, witty works that frequently have a kinetic energy, gets his biggest ever UK exhibition this week.