Bright, fun paintings by Prague-based art student Jakub Choma reference 90s cartoons and pop culture, and utilize digital imagery as a means to produce vibrant mixed media paintings. Check out more at the links below!
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First, tell me a bit about yourself! Where are you from, and where are you based now?
I am originally from Slovakia, from Košice exactly. At the moment I am in Prague, where I am in my second year at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague.
What first interested you in painting?
I have to say that it was my father, who was a painter his whole life, and partly a collector of paintings. Pictures, and talks about painting, its ideas and formal aspects, have always been present between us. Thanks to this, we have always a topic to talk about naturally, but when it comes to football, the dialog changes to a monologue. I just listen and pretend that I understand, ha ha! I'm not a football fanatic.
Can you tell me about your practice? Can you elaborate on your interest in the cartoon Scooby Doo, which is a predominant feature of many of your recent paintings?
It starts with research on the internet, than looking for picture material and creating a picture bank, file, or archive. This virtual bank then happens to be, as I say in my work, words' readymade surroundings, or which content belongs to an actual project that I work on. It is readymade because of the folder in which the pictures and text information are placed. They are immediately ready to use, and I am not their owner. It is like creating a fictional army, which is fighting to communicate.
It is like a picture, which becomes a reflection of a digital archive. Homogeneity, foliation, flatness, a pastiness about which we cannot talk, as about a collage. I began naturally doing this during studies at high school, where I studied commercial art design. The experience of the different poles of commercial art design has opened a folder of opportunities filled with how to think about the picture, space, and material in a different way.
Scooby Doo has been a recent project that I have been working on. I was looking for a topic, a theme which I could dedicate myself to. It was natural for me to go back to my own past, and the times when, as a child of the late 90s, I was receiving a virtual pictures, passively, from TV.
My mum told me that I had been watching a number of well-known cartoon TV series on VHS, in a cycle, when I was young. I think that the repetition of a picture, content, a story of the text, etc., was one of the things which led me to start referencing cartoon series, not to mention the interest in their aesthetics, which was something of a beginning. One of the most important moments, which has happened repeatedly in the series, was uncovering the idea of evil as a presence of the human, and not the miraculous, or a belief in a superstition. I was very sympathetic to that, such as at the end, when a man uncovers another man after taking off the mask. Multiformity, camouflage, and disguise is always noteworthy for me.
In the next stage, I was interested in the potential of these characters' anticipation of success, which is closely linked to nostalgia, corporate identity, retro-mania, and cartoon zombie-formalism. A character becomes morphology, a changing set of compositions.
What is your studio space or workspace like? How much time do you spend there?
The work is divided into research and ideology, which is inspired by wall maps in my room, and then looking for ideological and material relationships. The production of the work is realized in the school atelier/studio. Paper tape, dirty walls, and far too much the time spent in the school studio with my classmates, which then gets us to the listening to nostalgic music from 2000 (haha). So, there I spend most of my free time.
What is your process like? Do you plan your compositions, or work ask you go?
It depends on the project I devote my attention to at the moment. This is different, from looking for materials, thinking about design matters, to putting them together, the use of technology, to normal painter activity, and the canvas stretching. As for the composition, in parallel to these steps, I'm searching for the relationships between drawing method, digitally finding the right images by directly projecting them on the screen, digital designs implemented in a graphics editor, or creating images in the most common way without references to technology, as a hand remembering some digital code. The most important is finding the most correct starting points, then converting the digital information into the medium of painting.
You're currently enrolled at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague -- how has that experience been so far?
I'm glad you ask. I have a very good feeling about it. One of the biggest advantages of the painting studio is that there are many studios around it. It is such a little Bauhaus. Man has thus insight to different technologies, methods of work, so I naturally reflect that experience in favor of a shift of his own work, finding boundaries of the medium in which he works, fusing of applied art with fine art.
Is there a piece of advice that you've received, which you find yourself using regularly?
Once my father told me, "Not even one day without a drawing." I think that's right; time is running out quickly, and to have a program and discipline helps. (At least for me, haha).
What do you consider to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art seriously?
A few days back I watcheda movie called The Founder. There was Michael Keaton playing Ray Krock, the franchise agent who built McDonald's into one of the most successful fast food operations in the world. There was a scene where Ray is listening to a fictional recording called “Power of the Positive."
I would like to use this reference as an answer to your question. I think it fits in some way.
"Persistence. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent won't; nothing is more common than an unsuccessful man with kind. Genius won't; underrated genius is practically a cliche. Education won't; the world is full of educated fools. Persistence and determination alone are all-powerful."*
What is the most rewarding aspect?
When your Pilsner Urquell beer is draught to its perfection (Czech beer you know, haha), but also when your work surprises yo,u and breaks away from stereotype.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you're currently working on?
At the moment I am preparing a project on which I plan to work during summer term. For anyone who is willing to see a painting in its diversity, I would like to invite to my actual exhibition, Material 307 at Dox Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague.
Anything else you would like to add?
Of course! Thanks Kate for this opportunity and great interview. Also I would like to mention Instagram profiles of my fellows, check out @klokanos and @adamvitr.
*This is a take on an actual quote by Calvin Coolidge.
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